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Full text of "History of Jemima Wilkinson, a preacheress of the eighteenth century; containing an authentic narrative of her life and character, and of the rise, progress and conclusion of her ministry"

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HISTORY 

OF 

Jemima Wilkinson, 

j3 PREACHERESS OF THE EIGH- 
TEENTH CENTURY; 

CONTAINING AN AUTHENTIC NARRATIVE OF HER 

LIFE AND CHARACTER, 

AND OF T'HE 

Rise, Progress and Conclusion of 
her Ministry. 

WW VW VW WVVW VWVVX VW VWWV VW 

u Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.*' 

Matt. vii. 20. 

mi -/> <& o imi 
• By DAVID HUDSOX, 



Geneva, Ontario County, JV\ Y, 

PRINTED BY S. P. HULL. 

182L 



flQ 



Northern District of) Tq Wit . 
New-York. \ 

Be it remembered, That on the fifth day of 
September, in the forty sixth year of the 
<~s Independence of the United States of Amer- 
[ ica, A. D. 1821, DAVID HUDSON, of 
C^ the said District, has deposited in this 
Office the title of a Book, the Right where- 
of he claims as Author, in the words following, 
to wit : 

" History of Jemima Wilkinson, a Preacher- 

"ess of the eighteenth century, containing an 

" authentic Narrative of her Life and Charac- 

" ter, and of the rise, progress and conclusion 

" of her Ministry. 4 Wherefore by their fruits 

" ye shall know them' — Matt. vii. 20. By 

'•DAVID jtkjjl/o^ix, ueneva, untano to* 

"N. Y." 

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the U- 

nited States, entitled " An act for the encourage- 

u ment of Learning, by securing the copies of 

" Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and 

11 proprietors of such copies, during the times there- 

u in mentioned ;" and also, to the act entitled " An 

" act supplementary to an act entitled " An act for 

" the encouragement of Learning, by securing the 

" copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the au~ 

" thors and proprietors of such copies during the 

" times therein mentioned,' and extending the 

" benefits thereof to the arts of Designing, Engra- 

" ving, and Etching Historical and other Prints." 

RICH'D. R. LANSING, Clerk 

of the Northern Dist. JVY Y* 



>/ 



PREFACE. 

In presenting the public with this History, 
the author begs leave to remark, that no pains or 
diligence, nor reasonable expense, has been spa- 
red in obtaining correct information ; and although 
he had been personally acquainted with Jemima 
for many years previous to her death, and knew 
much of her history, yet he has not here stated 
any facts or circumstances in relation to her char- 
acter or conduct, without the authority of persons 
of respectability for their veracity from whom he 
received them, together with a solemn assurance 
that they had been eye and ear witnesses of all they 
related concerning her.. 

And although true it is, that from the great 
length of time which has elapsed since Je mma 
commenced her career as a Preacheress, and from 
the imperfection of man's memory, some inaccu- 
racies may have intervened as to the order of time 
in which the events of her life happened, yet aS to 
the existence of those events, and- their attendant 
circumstances, all those who pretend to relate them 
agree with remarkable precision and exactness. 

The history of Jemima? Wilkinson thus rests up- 
on the testimony of a variety of witnesses, one of 
whom was acquainted with her, and knew her well, 
from her birth to her death ; and the residue of 
whom were intimately acquainted with her, were 
almost constantly with her, and had an opportuni- 
ty of learning whatever took place in her society, 

A 2 



> 



VI 

from the commencement to the termination of her 
ministry. Although there is some diversity of o- 
pinion among them as to the real views and char- 
acter of Jemima, yet they agree precisely in the 
statement of all the material facts they undertake 
to relate. The author, therefore, feels warranted 
in offering this to the reader as an authentic Histo- 
ry of the life of Jemima Wilkinson, He makes no 
other pretension. That it is defective in point of 
style and arrangement, he is free to acknowledge. 
But these are defects which he has neither leisure 
nor skill to remedy, and for which he will, therefore, 
make no apology ; nor is he at all anxious as to 
the good or ill will of critics : for as he does 
not expect, so neither will he ask, any exemption; 
from the exercise of what they deem their rights.— 
In conclusion, however, he would remark, that it 
Las not been his intention to give offence to any 
one, but that he has written this History for the a- 
musement of himself, and. of those who may choose 
io read it* 



rii 

INTRODUCTION. 

It has been the unfortunate lot of mankind, in 
all ages and in all countries, to be divided in their 
views of a future state ; and while the existence of 
a Supreme, creating gnd governing Spirit has been 
almost universally acknowledged, the opinions of 
men concerning the nature and attributes of that 
Spirit, have been various and contradictory. Since 
thelight of Revelation has been sent to the assistance 
of the human mind, many, and perhaps some of the 
greatest, difficulties which inquiry had toencounter, 
have entirely vanished. The Great Creator of 
all things has been graciously pleased from time to 
time to manifest himself unta his fallen creatures, 
and to furnish them with the means of learning 
his power, his mercy, his wisdom and his truth ; 
of knowing themselves^ their duty to him and to 
each other; — the nature and extent of the service 
he requires of them, and the manner in which that 
service shall -be rendered \ the rewards which await 
those who acknowledge and obey, and the pun- 
ishments which are reserved for those who deny, 
his authority. But such is the weakness and per- 
versity of the human mind, that with all these 
advantages, men have never been able to unite 
together in one common system of foith and 
practice ; and^^en at the present day, with the 
wisdom, research and experience of ages before 
them, they are, perhaps, aS%iuch divided on the 
subject of Religion, as at any former period of the 
world. Systems almost innumerable still prevail* 



Till 

and the votary of each thinks himself peculiarly fa- 
vored of Heaven, in being led into the only safe 
and sure road to future happiness. 

Among those systems the Christian Religion 
stands pre-eminent for its purity, its authenticity, 
and for the beneficial effects (even in this world) 
which have, in all ages, attended its promulgation,, 
and a belief in its doctrines. Although there may, 
and probably always will, exist some diversity of 
sentiment as to the rites and ceremonies, and the 
temporal government and discipline of the Christian 
Church, yet in respect to those principles which 
constitute the foundation of the system itself, there 
is but little difference. The existence of the Trin- 
ity, the fall of man, the atonement by Christ, and 
the necessity of repentance, faith and obedience,, 
are truths which for ages past have been almost 
universally acknowledged throughout Christen- 
dom, which form the basis of the Christian's hope, 
and from which he derives those maxims of moral 
and religious dut\^ upon the observance of which, 
and the mercy of God, he relies for future happi- 
ness. 

The division of the Christian community into 
numerous and various denominations, is a circum- 
stance much used by those who deny the divine 
origin of Christianity, as an argument against the 
authenticity of the Scriptures ; but a careful inves- 
tigation of the subject will convince every impar- 
tial mind that this argument proves nothing against 
the Christian religion ; though it clearly demon- 
strates (what is always admitted) the imperfection 






IX 



of man, the weakness of his judgment and his lia- 
bility to err. So long, therefore, as the leading and 
important doctrines of the Gospel are taught 
and believed, by the different Churches which, 
acknowledge Christ as their head, charity, the 
brightest and most precious ornament in the 
Christian character, permits every denomina- 
tion to enjoy, uninterruptedly, their various opin- 
ions respecting their outward forms and ceremo- 
nies, requiring only, that all should sincere- 
ly believe the truth of what they profess. But this 
is the extent to which charity will require, and 
perhaps permit, us to go. If we believe in that 
system of religion which we profess, our duty to 
ourselves, and to the master we serve, requires ud 
to withhold our assent and countenance from those 
who attempt to promulgate new systems of faith 
and practice which contradict the evidence of our 
senses, and which are at war with the doctrines of 
the gospel ; for Christ hath said " Beware of false 
Prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, 
but inwardly they are ravening wolves."* That 
there should rise false Christs and false Prophets 
who should deceive and delude mankind, was ex- 
pressly foretold by our Saviour.J And that many ' 
such have already risen, pretending to extraordi- 
nary missions, exciting the wonder of the credu- 
lous, the fears of the timid, and misleading the un* 
wary, history bears ample and painful testimony, 



♦Matthew vii. 15. 

:|MaU]iew xxiv. 11— Mark xiii. 5, 6. 2i and 23. 



y 



X 

" 
Accounts are already recorded* of twenty four 
of these impostors who have flourished in various 
countries, and at different periods since the Chris- 
tian era, who have either denied in direct terms 
the divinity of our Saviour, or attempted to pro- 
pagate new creeds and strange doctrines altogeth- 
er inconsistent with the Christian Religion. 

To this melancholy account of enthusiasm, delu- 
sion and imposture, we are now about to add a- 
nother instance in the History of Jemima Wilkin- 
son. Whether the character of this woman, and 
her doctrines and career, resembled those of former 
pretenders, is not a matter of any consequence. 
Ii is our business to give a faithful history of her 
"life and character, according to the best hifcg&a* 
tion that could be obtained ; from which the rea- 
der may draw his own conclusion, and from which, 
it is presumed, he will find but little difficulty in 
determining whether or not this extraordinary per- 
sonage belonged to that class to which our blessed 
Lord and Saviour alluded in his conversation with 
his disciples on the Mount of Olives.f 



* Buck's Theological Dictionary, p, .308-4. 
tMark xiii. 6 anil 2.2- 



HISTORY, &c 

JEMIMA WILKINSON, was born in the 
town of Cumberland, in the county of Providence, 
and state of Rhode Island, of obscure, but repu- 
table parents. Her father Jeremiah Wilkinson, 
was a farmer by occupation, and possessed a small 
estate in Cumberland, the cultivation of which oc- 
cupied his attention, and afforded a comfortable 
support for his family. He was a man of strong 
mind, and rather stubborn disposition. Not hav- 
ing enjoyed the benefits of an education, he, as is 
too often the case, set a light value upon mental 
improvement, and made a merit of despising the 
politer accomplishments. He usually attended the 
Friends' meetings, being more attached to their so- 
ciety than to any other religious sect, yet was nev- 
er acknowledged by them as a regular memberof 
their community. In early life he married a 
young woman of the name of Amy Whipple, 
by whom he had twelve children, six sons and 
six daughters. Jemima, their eighth child, was 
bom in the year one thousand seven hundred 
and fifty one, and to her, exclusively, is this fam- 
ily indebted for the celebrity of its name. Her 
mother was an amiable and intelligent woman, 
an exemplary house wife, and an affectionate moth- 
er ; and to the care and instruction of her children 
was her whole life devoted. She was a member 
of the society of Friends for many years, and highly 
esteemed for her benevolence and piety, and tha 
uniform tenor of her useful life. She died soon af< 
ter the birth of her youngest child, leaving the car\* 



12 HISTORY OF 

and education of her children to their father, whose 
ideas on this subject extended but little, if any, 
beyond instructing them in those branches of la- 
bour and domestic economy, to which he had him- 
self been accustomed, and by which his family had 
been supported. The loss of his wife was to him 
a very severe affliction, from the effects of which 
he never fully recovered. He remained single, and 
towards the close of his life became melancholy 
— spent the greater part of his time in solitude, 
and died at the advanced age of about seventy 
years. 

Jemima was about eight years old when her 
mother died, and from that time, until she arrived 
at the age of sixteen, she exhibited no peculiar 
traits of character or temper which would 
distinguish her from other girls of her age and 
rank in life, excepting her unconquerable aversion 
to every thing like labor. She seldom differed 
with those about her, unless when requested to 
perform her part of the drudgery of the family— 
&nd on these occasions she evinced an unusual 
share of cunning in shifting upon her elder sisters 
the tasks assigned her. To effect this, she resorted, 
from time to time, to every expedient of which 
she was mistress : flattery, persuasion and preten- 
ces of ill health, were in turn brought to her aid, 
and when these failed, they were succeeded by so 
much stubbornness and negligence, as to increase 
the labor of the family in compelling her to perform 
her duty. Jemima had now become a fine bloom- 
ing girl, was sprightly in her manners, comely in 
her person, and possessed of no ordinary share of 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. IS 

beauty ; and had her excellent mother lived to 
enjoy the sweet satisfaction of moulding her dispo- 
sition, of cultivating her understanding, and of in- 
stilling into her tender mind those principles of o- 
bedience, industry and benevolence, which sheher- 
self possessed, and which so eminently distinguish 
the society of Friends, Jemima would doubtless 
have been a useful member of the community, and 
an ornament to the little circle in which she moved. 
BiU these advantages being lost to her, she grew 
t?p in idleness and disobedience, and discovered 
early and strong symptoms of that propensity to 
dictation and rule which characterised her after 
career. Finding ber extremely troublesome, and 
^together useless at borne, her father at length 
yielded to her repeated solicitations to go abroad 
and learn the trade of a tailoress : and ha£>py had 
it been for many a ruined family had she made 
herself mistress of, and followed that useful occu- 
pation, through life. 

Released from the control of her sisters, and the 
restraint to which she had been subjected, enli- 
vened by the novelty of her new situation, and enter- 
tained by the rotine of customers and the technical 
language of the shop, she was at first highly de- 
lighted, and no doubt thought herself extremely 
fortunate in this change of employment : But these 
effects gradually wore off, and ere long the causes 
which had induced her to desire to leave herfather's 
house, operated with equal force in producing a 
strong inclination again to return thither. Her 
impatience of restraint, her total aversion to any 

B 



s 



14 HISTORY OF 

regular employment, and her ungovernable tern* 
per, began to make their appearance, and at 
length rendered her longer sojourning with her new 
acquaintance altogether inadmissible. She was ac- 
cordingly dismissed and sent back to her father f 
after an absence of about ten months. 

From this time for about seven years, nothing 
occurred respecting our heroine, the relation of 
which would be either interesting or instructive. — 
Her contempt of industry, and her fondness for 
dress and company, increased with her years. She 
had many broils and contests with her sisters, in 
most of which she succeeded by her obstinacy or 
management. Amusement and pleasure, an exemp- 
tion from the cares and confinement of domestic 
life, and an insatiable ambition for parade, supe- 
riority and dictation, had become her ruling pas- 
sions. Her ripening beauties, her quick and sharp 
wit, and her elegant person, procured her admirers, 
which increased her pride and vanity, and rendered 
her regardless of every thing which did not minister 
to her gratification. She declared that she would 
not attend church, or go into any public company, 
unless she could appear better attired than any 
other person in the assembly ; — that she had but 
one life to live, and that she intended to spend in 
ease and enjoyment. She had lost all respect for 
her family — set at nought her father's authority, 
and spurned the advice and admonitions of her 
sisters. Fools might do as they pleased, she would 
say, but as for herself, she owed allegiance to no 
mortal, neither would she be controlled by man or 
woman. 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 15 

Jemima was now about twenty three years of 
age, and extremely gay and listless, spending her 
time in idleness at home, or visiting and amuse- 
ment abroad. The boldness with which she de- 
clared her intentions, and the persevering obstina- 
cy with which she carried them into effect, surpri- 
sed and confounded her elder sisters ; and her fa- 
ther, being far advanced in life, seldom troubled 
himself about his daughters, whom he now consid- 
ered old enough to govern themselves. She thus 
gained a complete ascendancy in her family, which 
she maintained with jealous care during the residue 
of her life. 

About the year 1774 there sprang up in the 
county of Providence, a sect of religionists styling 
themselves " New-Lights" called by some " New- 
Light Baptists" and by others " Separates," they 
having separated from other denominations. The 
zeal of these fanatics exceeded that of all other pro- 
fessors of religion, and constituted, in their opin- 
ion, no doubt, their chief excellence. They insist- 
ed upon the practicability and necessity of living 
continually in the power and spirit of religion, 
which consisted in constantly exhibiting outward 
evidence of the internal workings of the spirit 5 
which they failed not to do whenever an opportuni- 
ty offered of attracting public notice. They had 
for a considerable time but little success in gaining 
proselytes to their new scheme : but from their 
want, or contempt, of regular church organization 
and government, this society held out strong tempt- 
ations to noisy and ambitious zealots, who might 
wish to distinguish themselves as leaders in their 



13 HISTORY OF 

meeting?, lo join them. By their creed also, (if 
creed it could he called) all persons who fancied 
themselves to he unceasingly actuated hy the spirit 
and power fcf religion, and to be constantly guided 
by an illumination directly from heaven, were deem* 
cd lit for immediate membership, and were accor- 
ding!} 7 admitted without much scrutiny as to their 
chorals oft conduct. About the close of this yfear 
there was a considerable addition to the society of 
Separates in the town of Cumberland, and the zeal 
andfervor manifested hy them, engaged for a while the 
serious attention of some and the curiosity of others. 
Among the latter, was Jemima, whose impatience 
of confinement, and fondness for gaiety, dress and 
public company, drew her to all the meetings m 
her neighbourhood. She soon however became se- 
riously inclined, and steady in her attendance on 
these meetings ; her airy gaiety was exchanged for 
sedateness and reflection, v.\u\ in her outward de- 
meanor she gave strong evidence of a change in the 
state of her mind. Bat as s£>e did not furnish suf- 
ficient evidence of enthusiastic devotion to satisfy 
the requirements of their system, she was never 
considered a member of the society. She however 
continued to attend their meetings with great punc«» 
tuality, was \evy attentive, and appeared to be much 
attached to these people. But this society, after 
flourishing a short time, went rapidly to decay, and 
was broken up by the falling off of its members, 
almost as suddenly as it was formed. By the im- 
mutable laws of nature it is provided, that every 
elevation of the human mind which is produced by 
the presence of unusually exciting causes, must 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 17 

always be succeeded by a depression, equally 
removed from the common standard, whenever 
those exciting causes cease to exist, or the mind be- 
comes insensible to their operation. It is therefore, 
perhaps, no matter of wonder, that these enthusias- 
tic zealots, after having been suddenly wrought up 
to a pitch of fanaticism bordering on phrenzy, by 
endeavoring to outdo every body else, and even 
each other, in the vehemence of their devotion, 
should as abruptly fall ofi* become scattered, and 
finally, with their crude and undefined system, pass 
quietly down the current of time, leaving scarcely 
a trace behind. But although Jemima had not 
been operated upon with that violence which was 
common to the most zealous of this society, yet her 
mind appeared to have received a strong/impression 
as to the nature and necessity of religion, during 
her attendance upon these meetings, which wrought 
a very considerable change in her habits and con- 
duct. She continued thoughtful and serious, and 
instead of the pursuit of pleasure^ religious sub- 
jects principally engrossed her attention. She had 
always shown a fondness for books, and had read 
many of the common place productions within her 
reach ; light and airy tales, novels, romances, news- 
papers and poetry, occupied chiefly her attention at 
home, and served as a pretext for refusing to take 
upon herself a due share of the domestic duties of the 
family. But her taste was now entirely changed 
as to the choice of books, while her inclination for 
reading became stronger than ever, and instead of 
amusement, she now read for instruction, and tho&§L 



18 HISTORY OF 

volumes which had formerly been her delight, gave 
place to her Bible, with which she had previously 
enjoyed but a slight acquaintance. Her visiting a- 
broad, of which she had been excessively fond, be- 
came less frequent, and was confined chiefly to the 
serious and sedate of her acquaintance. She for- 
got in some measure her pride of dress, and the lit- 
tle jealousies with which her rival beauties in the 
neighbourhood had formerly inspired her, were no 
longer held in remembrance. She continued for 
several months to grow more reserved, and fond of 
solitude, altogether discontinuing her visits abroad, 
and confining herself mostly to her room. This in- 
creasing change in her disposition and conduct, 
was noticed by her family and acquaintance, and 
as tbey all knew her to possess an ardegt mind, 
they concluded that she was laboring under those 
impressions which she had recently received on the 
subject of religion, and that peace and cheerfulness 
would in due time revisit her troubled breast. She 
was therefore indulged in her retirement until a- 
bout midsummer 1775, when she secluded herself 
altogether from company and social converse, and 
to avoid intrusion, and satisfy inquiries, com- 
plained of ill health, and occasionally kept her bed. 
The family, alarmed at thisstrangeconduct, thought 
proper to call in the family Physician, who visited 
her regularly for several days, and very carefully 
examined her case, but could not ascertain that 
she endured any pain or distress, or that her sys- 
tem was disordered ; but was given to understand 
by her, that she needed none of his assistance, 
lie therefore gave it as his opinion, that her bodily 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 19 

health was altogether unimpaired, and that she was 
laboring under some strong mental delusion, the 
removal of which would wean her from her love of 
solitude, and restore her to her family, friends and 
society ; but to effect this required a skill which 
he did not possess. He continued his visits how-, 
ever, though rather in compliance with. the wishes 
of the family than in the hope or expectation of 
benefiting his patient. Jemima continued in this 
state until the latter end of September, when she 
pretended an increase of illness, and confined her- 
self altogether to her bed. In a few weeks after, she 
became feeble and wan* and the apparent decline 
of her health so increased the solicitude of the fam- 
ily; that nightly watchers were procured to attend 
in her room, while she received the constant care of 
her sisters by day. She now began to speak of 
having visions from heaven, and extraordinary visi- 
tations from the regions beyond the skies ; and at 
the dead hour of night,, when all nature was hush- 
ed to repose, and her timid attendants were trem- 
blingly alive to the least rustling of the breeze which 
fell upon the loosened shutter of her window, she 
would endeavor to impress upon their minds the re- 
ality of these ridiculous pretences, by describing, 
with great solemnity, the ominous noises which she 
heard, the ghostly sights which were constantly, 
presented to her vision, and the celestial forms 
which were continually passing in her view. Yet 
still tlie attending Physician declared that she la- 
boured under no disease or debilitating cause, 
excepting what arose from her long, obstinate and 
close confinement, and the, gloomy workings of a 



20 HISTORY OF - 

diseased imagination ; and the confidence with 
which he maintained this opinion, the care and 
attention with which he had investigated her case, 
together with his high standing as a member of the 
faculty, satisfied the family and their friends as to the 
situation of his patient, and the nature of her malady. 
On Thursday evening, about the latter end of 
October 1776, two women of the neighbourhood 
came to watch with Jemima^ who were far from 
beingsuperstitious, and who were not very likely to be 
disturbed by those tales of wonder and mystery 
with which she had frightened several of her nur- 
ses of less courage and fortitude. As soon as the 
family had retired to rest, and the house became 
stilly she began to entertain these attendants with 
the old story of her visitations and visions, and the 
sights, and forms, and noises, which she continually 
saw and heard, But these ladies were not to be 
intimidated, or imposed upon by such vagrant as- 
sertions ; and when she requested them tp observe 
the white figures and celestial forms which she pre- 
tended to point out, they denied that any thing of 
the kind was apparent, and chided her folly; but. 
Jemima insisted the more obstinately in proportion 
to their incredulity, and bade, them take notice of 
the motion of her bed curtains, asserting at the 
same time, that it was occasioned, by the presence 
of the Lord, who was then visiting, and ministering 
unto her. This tremulous motion of her curtains 
was produced, as these attendants afterwards decla- 
red, by Jemima, in pressing her feet against the 
wall at the foot of her bed. She also informed 
them that a great change in her state and condi- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 21 

tloa was soon to take place, and ihat she felt con- 
scious she was about to be called to act some great 
and useful part in this wicked world, for the bene- 
fit of mankind. In this manner she vexed her at- 
tendants and fatigued herself, until a little past 
eleven o'clock, when she fell into a light slumber, 
and continued in that situation for nearly an hour. 
Her nurses, during this interval of quiet, went sev- 
eral times to her bed side, and observed her to be 
pale and motionless, and apparently lifeless ; but 
upon a close examination found her features un- 
changed, her pulse regular, and her respiration so 
soft and silent as almost to elude the closest scru- 
tiny. Immediately after the clock struck twelve, 
she raised herself up in bed, and appeared as if 
suddenly awakened fradi a refreshing sleep. Her 
attendants inquired of her what she wanted, when 
to their utter astonishment, she, in an authoritative 
tone, and avoicemuchstronger than usual, demand- 
ed her clothes; one of them desired her to lie clown 
and compose herself to rest, but she still persisted in 
her demand with increased firmness and austerity, 
declaring she had passed the gates of death, and 
was now risen from the dead. Her father, who 
had been sleeping in an adjoining room, being a- 
wakened by their loud talk, rose and came to the 
door, and on being informed of her strange whims, 
endeavored to quiet her clamour and sooth her to 
repose, but she disdainfully rejected his kind at- 
tentions, as an impertinent interference, and told 
him she owed obedience to the higher powers only. 
Her apparel was procured, and she immediately 
got up and dressed herself, and from that lime for- 



22 HISTORY OF 

ward went about in apparently as good health as 
she had usually enjoyed, though somewhat feeble 
and emaciated by her long confinement. 

Jemima did not go abroad until the Sabbath fol- 
lowing ; in the meanwhile many of her neighbours 
and acquaintance called to see her, having under- 
stood that she had recovered ; but she repelled, witb 
the utmost promptitude, their congratulations on 
her recovery* and denied that it was Jemima to 
whom they were speaking, nnd with affected so- 
lemnity informed them that the body of Jemima 
Wilkinson had been dead, that her soul was then 
in heaven, and that the tabernacle which Jemima 
had left behind was re-animated by the powtr and 
spirit of Jesus Christ — that this was the second 
coming of the Lord, who was to remain on earth 
and reign a thousand years, that it was the eleventh 
hour, and the last call of mercy that would ever be 
made to the human race ; that an "inquiry was 
made in Heaven saying, l Who will go and Preach 
to a dying World ? 5 and she answered, i Here am 
I, send me,' and that she thereupon immediately 
left the realms of light and glory, and the company 
of the heavenly host, who are continually worship- 
ing God — in order to pass through many trials and 
sufferings for the happiness of mankind* 55 She 
said also, that on leaving the realms of bliss, it had 
been given her to choose whether she would be 
received back into Heaven, bodily, at the end of the 
first ten days of her terrestrial residence, or re- 
main on earth and encounter the difficulties and 
sufferings of the world, for the benefit of mankind, 
for a thousand years, and then receive a corporeal 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 23 

translation into Heaven. She said that " those who 
refused to believe these exalted things concerning 
her, will be in the state of the unbelieving Jews, 
who neglected the counsel of God against them- 
selves." At the end of the ten days, not having 
left her friends, she informed them that she had 
elected to reign on earth a thousand years, and that 
the tabernacle which she inhabited, (a cant phrase 
which she ever after used when speaking of her 
person) was immortal, that it would never die, 
and that at the close of that period it would be ta- 
ken up into Heaven in a cloud of glory. 

Many of the friends and relations of Jemima vis- 
ited her during the Friday and Saturday follow- 
ing the -termination of her confinement, and vari- 
ous were their sensations and conjectures on wit- 
nessing her absurd conduct, and in contemplating 
the reprehensible course which she appeared deter- 
mined to pursue. Some were vexed with her arr 
rogance and obstinacy; others were intimidated by 
the set manner of her speech, the firmness of her 
voice, the inflexibility of her countenance, -and the 
steady and intense stare from her keen eye; while 
the greater part of them believed her to be labour- 
ing under a slight degree of mental derangement, 
occasioned by the debility arising from her recent 
confinement, which they hoped would gradually 
wear oft' as her strength returned ; while they all a- 
greed that there was something very strange in her 
conduct. No one, however, believed a word of her 
preposterous pretensions, or that she would attempt 
to persevere in them for any considerable length 
of time, for all were certain that it was the same per- 



24 HISTORY OF 

son, the same Jemima, whom they had known and 
seen diuly from her infancy. 

On Sabbath day after Jemima Wilkinson rose 
from the — bt. t j, she made her appearance at the 
public meeting in the neighbourhood ; she was 
habited in plain and simple attire, but with the ut- 
most neatness ; her countenance was pale and lan- 
guid, which, with a good form and graceful move- 
ment, gave her an interesting appearance. It be- 
jng remarkably fine weather, people attended meet- 
ing from a considerable distance, so that there was 
cm unusually large audience. Immediately after 
morning service was ended, and while the congre- 
gation were waiting about the meeting house, as 
was customary during the intermission, Jemima 
Walked to a^shade tree at a little distance, where, 
as she no doubt expected and wished, a considera- 
ble number immediately followed her ; she then be- 
gan without any ceremony to address them. This 
drew others along, and in a few minutes almost the 
whole congregation were gathered about her. This 
crafty actress now summoned all her powers to 
please her audience and engage their attention, and 
although not accustomed to speak in public, she 
continued her discourse for nearly half an hour 
with considerable fluency, and without discovering 
any signs of embarrassment. Her feeble voice, her 
graceful gestures, her languid countenance, her 
persuasive language, and the soft expression of her 
.fine eyes, together with her recent extraordinary 
confinement, and the novelty of the scene before 
them, produced a great effect upon her hearers. 
This address was rather in the style of a moral lee- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 25 

ture than a sermon. She descanted upon the beau- 
ty of virture and morality, of the heniousness of 
sin, and the necessity of an amendment of life, and 
a faithful discharge of every duty ; and evinced a 
knowledge of the scriptures, and an acquaintance 
with religious subjects generally, which astonished 
all who heard her. She had spent the principal 
part of her time for almost a year with her Bible, 
and other religious books, and her memory was so 
retentive that she could repeat a greater portion of 
what she had read than almost any other person 
of her time. As this was her first attempt, and as 
much of her future success depended upon the ef- 
fect she could now produce, it is reasonable to sop- 
pose that her discourse had been carefully prepar- 
ed for the first opportunity of the kind that should 
present itself. Although she did not offer herself 
to her hearers as their saviour, yet she had several 
strong allusions to the facts and circumstances 
which she had asserted to her visitants during the 
two preceding days. Having ended her address, 
she informed them that whoever wished to see and 
converse with her, could enjoy that privilege by 
calling on her at the place where she sojourned, 
and immediately left them ; but took care on this*, 
as on all subsequent occasions, to say nothing a~ 
bout home, Hither, brothers or sisters, or any thing 
that should imply a relationship and connexion 
between herself and the rest of the human race. — - 
According to her invitation many called to see her 
from time to time, some from a desire of convin- 
cing her of the impiety of her conduct °nd prete^ 



2G HISTORY OF 

sions, and the folly and danger of persevering in 
such blasphemies ; and many from mere cariosity. 
As there was frequently a considerable collection 
at her father's to spend an evening, she had many 
opportunities of exhorting and praying to an audi- 
ence, and was sure never to let them pass unimprov- 
ed. She attended all the meetings in the town — 
was present at all the conferences and collections 
of serious people, and particularly at funerals, and 
always watched an opportunity of posting herself 
in some conspicuous place, and haranguing those 
w ho would pay attention to her discourses. From 
the novelty of such conduct, and the earnestness of 
her demeanor, she generally attracted more atten- 
tion than any other speaker. After having pur- 
sued this desultory kind of preaching for some 
months, and finding a few inclined to become her 
followers, Jemima ventured to appoint meetings of 
her own. This succeeded beyond her most san- 
guine expectation. Her meetings were more nu- 
merous and attentive than she or any other person 
had anticipated. Her fame began to spread a- 
broad, persons came from a distance to hear her, 
and invited her to go into other towns to preach. 
This was a result for which she had been for some 
time anxiously looking, and to produce which, she 
had strove with all the art and cunning of which 
she was mistress. Accordingly, these invitations 
were eagerly accepted, and promptly complied 
with, out of pure zeal, wo doubt, for the welfare of 
souls. It was also favorable to the success of her 
gchemes, for by shifting about from place to place, 
she was. at no period, stationary a sufficient length 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. *| 

of time to hazard an exposure of her real motives 
and true character. In her perambulations she 
visited New-Port, Providence, Seconnet, and 
North and South Kingstown hi the state of Rhode- 
Island, and New-Milford and some other places ill 
Connecticut, and New-Bedford in Massachusetts 
Having undertaken to establish a new religion, 
and to organize a sect of which she was to fcre the 
head and founder, it became expedient (in her 
judgment) to avoid the beaten track of all denomi- 
nations of christians ; she accordingly rejected with 
disdain all forms and ceremonies, all church gov- 
ernment and discipline, and finally the sacrament^ 
and many other leading doctrines of Christianity^ 
Hence it came to pass, that her society was compo- 
sed of dissenters from other denominations, those 
who had been suspended or excluded from church' 
membership for their disorderly conduct — a few 
unprincipled adventurers, and a still greater num- 
ber of weak men and women, and inexperienced 
girls and children. As the society increased, bow- 
ever, her means of deception multiplied, until she 
succeeded in deluding several persons of respecta- 
bility for wealth and intelligence. Indeed, it soon 
became her leading object to proselyte those who 
possessed the means of supporting her in her idler 
ness and extravagance. She visited New-Part 
while the British forces lay there, tarried some time, 
and preached to the officers, who were very much 
pleased and amused with her ; one of whom, in 
particular, pretended to be violently in love with 
her, paid her his addresses, and obtained several 
private interviews with his fair instructress. It wa< 



ft HISTORY OF 

agreed between them, that he should resign bis 
commission in the service of his King, and enlist ur>- 
<ler the banners of a mistress, in whose service there 
would be more comfort and less hazard. In short, 
rhat he should retire to his estates, which he pre- 
fended to possess in his native country, where she 
was to follow him as soon as possible, when the 
contract now entered into was to be more publicly 
and formally ratified. As no human eye or ear 
was permitted to witness the tenderness of the part- 
ing scene, the reader must not expect a minute des- 
cription of it. Suffice it to say, that she returned 
lo North-Eingstown, and the fleet some time after 
left the port. Jemima now began to preach uni- 
versal love and good will to all mankind, deplored 
the infatuation of the people of England in sending 
troops to this country to murder their brethren ; 
mid in due time discovered to her credulous follow- 
ers, that it wtts her duty to go and preach peace 
and benevolence to the people of the mother coun- 
try, to the end, that wars and rumors of wars might 
erase. So successfully did this arch deceiver prac- 
tice upon her confiding people, that the measure 
was cheerfully assented to by them, and every pre- 
paration made for her voyage. Her passage was 
engaged, clothing purchased, sea stores procured, 
oncl money furnished. So ample and expensive 
was the equipment of this adventurer, and so small 
were the number of her followers who possessed 
ihe means and the disposition to furnish supplies, 
that the advances made by one individual, who had 
joore money than sense, amounted 10 about a 
thousand dollars. It was now in the latter end of 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 29 

the month of June, the weather fine, the vessel ta- 
king in her lading, and our female Quixotte, hav- 
ing all her paraphamalia packed up, ready to be 
put on board, was daily watching with palpitating 
heart, the sweet breezes that gently fanned the bo- 
som of the deep, and which were soon to waft her to 
bliss and terrestrial glory. A meeting of her fol- 
lowers was appointed to receive her benediction, 
and long farewell — when lo ! a mischievous news- 
paper fell in her way containing an account of 
some military operations and skirmishes, with a de- 
tail of the killed and wounded, among the latter of 
whom was Major — — , Jemima's pretended lover. 
This intelligence was like a thunder stroke to Je- 
mima, and at once blasted all the prospects of im- 
aginary greatness and felicity w r ith which her ad- 
mirer had so successfully flattered her. The read- 
ing of this unwelcome news was no sooner ended 
than she rose from her seat, and retired immediate- 
ly to her room, where she shut herself up, and free- 
ly vented her rage against her treacherous lover, in 
whom she now found she had trusted too far. 

The mind of this woman was, however, of no or- 
dinary cast ; quick and decisive in farming her 
plans, cunning and persevering in their execution, 
and relying upoi> the credulity of her devotees, 
she was not long in devising the means of extrica- 
ting herself from this unpleasant dilemma. A vis- 
ion and counter orders from Heaven would effect 
ually do the business. But the mortification at 
the faith lessness and loss of her lover, and her fears 
of the consequences of her indulgent interviews witli 



■30 HISTORY OF 

this son of Mars, sat heavily on her mind. She 
complained of ill health, and spent the evening un- 
til very late, in reading and reflection ; and then 
throwing herself on her bed, without undressing, 
she directed two of her confidants to watch her du- 
ring the remainder of the night : as her followers 
were to meet the next day to receive her blessing 
and parting admonition, this night was to be spent 
in preparing herself for the event. She continued 
several hours in deep meditation, lying perfectly 
still, with her eyes open and apparently fixed in 
their sockets. About four in the morning, she rose 
and resumed her reading. When the hour of 
meeting approached, she attired herself with the ut- 
most neatness and care, and repaired to the place 
of meeting, where her cheated worshippers were 
waiting, in breathless anxiety, her august ap- 
proach. Having seated herself, and rested a few 
minutes, Jemima rose and addressed her people 
in her usual style, expressing great tenderness and 
anxiety for their happiness, and exhorting them 
to be strong m the faith, and to be content with 
whatever was allotted them, adding, that the Lord 
would provide for them, that they were the pecul- 
iar objects of divine care and protection, that the 
Friend had come among them to save from falling 
all such as had faith, and should persevere to the 
end. After much circumlocution she arrived at 
the critical point, the vision — " I have a message 
from Heaven for this people, therefore listen, and 
let thine ears give heed to what the ' Universal 
Friend of mankind' saith : — Last night, while re- 
fleeting on the labour of love which was about to 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 31 

be undertaken for the conversion of distant and 
precious souls, my mind became wearied, sorrow 
and sadness sat heavily on my spirits. Suddenly a 
ray of light from above shone with unutterable 
splendor, and illuminated the room, — an Angel from 
Heaven stood before me ! and with a placid smile, 
and sweet voice pronounced these words : ' Put 
off the journey which thou hast undertaken, the 
time of thy sojourning among the faithful, in this 
vale of darkness, is not yet accomplished ; go 
meet thy people, and inform them that it is the 
will of the Lord that the Shepherd abide with the 
flock, that no evil come nigh unto them.' Here, 
my beloved, ye have heard the words of the Lord, 
the Friend will therefore remain with this people 
for the edification and strengthening of their souls.'* 
This discourse, and the impious pretence that 
she spoke the words of the Lord, completely satis- 
fied her deluded followers, and they retired more 
firmly fixed in their faith than before the getting up 
of this farce ; and those who had parted with their 
money, finding themselves without any redress, were 
among the most ready and zealous in expressing 
their entire devotion to Jemima and her cause, in 
the hope, no doubt, that others might, in their turn, 
be as badly cheated as themselves. One of them,, 
however, whohadmade the principal advances, was 
some what exasperated ; he obtained a private inter- 
view with her, and reproached her with having de- 
ceived him, and told her that her intended journey 
was a mere pretence to obtain money, and that un- 
less she restored him his own, he w T ould abandon the 



32 HISTORY OF 

society, and prosecute her to recover his due. But 
this wily actress so managed as to retain this 
wealthy member in her ranks, and, what was more 
to her purpose, to keep the money which she then 
had in her possession. After some altercation, 
they agreed to have the society so organized as 
that the property of all should be put into a gene- 
ral fund, and held as common stock for the benefit 
of the whole ; and that he should be appointed 
overseer and manager of the temporal, while she 
should devote herself wholly to the spiritual, con- 
cerns of the society. As a large majority of heir 
followers had little to give up, and therefore ex- 
pected to better their condition, at least in this world, 
by a ready compliance, this plan was no sooner 
proposed, than adopted by the society. But the pro- 
ject was illy relished by those who possessed wealth, 
and did not choose to place it in the hands of an 
individual, over whom they had no control, 
and who could not be made accountable for 
the manner in which she might dispose of it ; and 
Jemima, finding herself in danger of losing some 
of her most wealthy friends and supporters, so mod- 
ified her decree, as that the members might put in- 
to the common stock whatever they pleased. — 
This condescension of the Friend, removed all dif- 
ficulties, and made those who did not think it pru- 
dent to part with their fortunes, extremely liberal 
in their donations. 

In order to secure herself against want, Jemima 
adopted and carried into effect, one Qf the most 
bold and impious expedients, perhaps, ever practi- 
sed in modern times : whenever she wanted any 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 83 

tiling which she saw in the possession of any of 
her followers, she would send for them and say, 
cc the Lord hath need of this thing," and strange as 
it may appear, it is not less true, that several 
persons, who have in latter years abandoned her 
society, have repeatedly declared that this demand 
had frequently been made on them, and that they 
had immediately complied with it, because they, 
at the time, verily believed in the divinity of her 
eharacter, and dared not, on any occasion, disobey 
her commands. Jemima continued this practice, 
ai^d almost uniformly enforced obedience, during 
the remainder of her life; and sometimes with such 
avaricious severity, that those upon whom these 
predatory requisitions were made, were constrained 
to part with articles which were extremely necessa- 
ry to the comfort of their families. 

She continued to travel about the country, and 
to preach wherever she could obtain an audience, 
and attempted to establish societies, but for a consid- 
erable time met with poor success. She at length, 
however, succeeded in forming a small congrega- 
tion at South Kingstown, and another somewherein 
Connecticut, who erected meeting houses for her 
accommodation when she sojourned a&iofrg them. 
She was always extremely jealous of the fidelity of 
her followers, and in continual fear of their falling 
off, especially the wealthy ; accordiitgly every shift 
was resorted to tor the purpose of securing their 
e&ettnuance in the faith. When her society in Con- 
necticut ^recteJ their meethtg house, she induced 
thorn iv- enter into a c .ant by which it was pro- 
vided, that tlio&e uo left the society should forfeit 



34 HISTORY OF 

their rights in the building, (which she denomina- 
ted the " Temple of the Lord,") and that it should 
remain the property of those who continued faith- 
ful unto the end. In process of time, the mem- 
bers became scattered and falien ofi^ all but two in- 
dividuals, to whom the property fell, by the condi- 
tions of the association, and they, it is said, sold 
the building to another society at a handsome 
speculation. But the poor, she was under no ap- 
prehension of losing ; the common-stock doctrine 
was sure to retain those whose adhesion was not 
so necessary to the advancement of her ultimate ob- 
jects, and whom she always considered rather as a 
burthen than otherwise, 

Jemima had negociated matches for all her sis- 
ters except Deborah, the youngest, and in some in- 
stances much above their rank. In this business 
she was so great an adept, that she found but little 
difficulty, even with respect to two of them who 
had previously become mothers without the sanc- 
tion of those forms, which by the common consent . 
of mankind, are deemed indispensible. The jug- 
gling of the Friend overcame all objections, and 
convinced the dupe of her hypocrisy that it was 
his duty to become her sisters husband. She un- 
doubtedly intended by similar means to provide 
for herself, whenever a suitable opportunity should 
occur, but the unpropitious result of her attempt 

uponMajor , and the inconvenlencies to which 

she had been thereby subjected, checked her am- 
bitious hopes on the subject of matrimony, and be- 
ing now somewhat advanced, having no one a- 
mong her followers who would answer her purpose^. 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 35 

and seeing no great prospect of splendid additions, 
she gave up the idea of marriage altogether. 

Among the most important and useful of all Je- 
mima's proselytes in Rhode Island, was Mr. P. a 
gentleman of handsome fortune and high standing 
in his neighbourhood. He was very much devoted 
to the interests of Jemima, held her in the highest 
veneration, and entertained her with the greatest 
kindness and hospitality whenever she visited his 
family, a part of whom also became members of 
the society. Jemima finding his rerHence an a- 
greeable one, so managed 3s to obtain his invita- 
tion to make it her home ; which she very modestly 
accepted, and remained with him tVie principal part 
of the time for three years. During this period, and 
shortly after giving up her intended journey to 
England, Jemima secluded herself altogether 
from company, confined herself entirely to her a- 
partments, and interdicted the approach of every 
one excepting two of her confidential female friends, 
who remained with her. At the end of about 
seven months, she again made her appearance in 
public, but so wan and feeble, as to leave no doubt, 
en the minds of those who did not choose to be de- 
ceived, as to the nature and necesity of her con- 
finement. About this time, Jemima, at the insti- 
gation, and with the assistance of one Sarah Rich- 
ards, who had recently joined the society, introdu- 
ced into her creed a new point of doctrine, prohibi- 
ting matrimony among her followers, as unlawful 
and an " abomination unto the Lord." She 
preached this doctrine vehemently, and in the most 
positive manner required her unmarried disciples 



36 HISTORY OF 

$o suppress every inclination which tended to the 
commission of such an awful crime. Nay, she at- 
tempted to extend this tenet so far as to separate 
those who had entered into wedlock before she had 
discovered the great iniquity of marriage, and 
while she wasyet negotiating matches (of hers«sters. 
But having been deceived and injured by her dear 
Major, and becoming disgusted with the idea of 
wedlock, her mind had now undergone an entire 
change on this subject. Her own disappointments 
had engendered the most bitter resentment, which 
she was illy able to conceal, while her envious 
temper tormented her jealous bosom at seeing oth- 
ers enjoy that felicity of which she had been cheat- 
ed. There were also other reasons which un- 
doubtedly operated strongly on her mind, and had 
their full share of influence in bringing her to an 
open declaration of war against matrimony. The 
greatest part of her unmarried adherents were 
poor, and she did not wish to see that description 
of followers multiply on her hands, as they must 
necessarily be, in some measure, assisted from the 
common stock, which was at no time sufficient to 
satisfy her own avarice. She enforced, to the ut- 
most of her authority, a rigid observance of her in- 
junctions on this subject, and such was the unre- 
lenting and tyrannical temper of this destroyer of 
human happiness, and so strong the delusion 
which she had already fastened upon her too cre- 
dulous people, that few of her devoted followers 
dared to disobey her unhallowed mandates. — 
Wives abandoned their husbands? and husbands 
their wives, ia almost ail cases where only one of 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 3; 

them belonged to the society ; many families were 
broken up for a season, and some entirely ruined, 
and the only relaxation from her stern decree, was, 
that where the husband and wife were both follow- 
ers, they were permitted to live together : but even 
in these cases, she prohibited all sexual intercourse 
between them, under no less penalty than her dis- 
pleasure in this world, and their eternal punishment 
in the next In carrying into effect this project, 
she not only incorporated into her society the seeds 
of dissolution, but introduced indiscribable misery 
and distress into many of those families where her 
baneful influence predominated. 

Jemima Wilkinson continued her ministrations 
to the regular congregations which she had formed, 
and to visit and preach at various other places in 
New-England, where she could occasionally ob- 
tain an audience, but met with little success in ad- 
ding to the number of her followers, or to the a- 
mount of their common stock ; she therefore be- 
gan to contrive plans for enlarging the sphere of 
her action and the extent of her influence. Be- 
sides, she began to fear the loss of some of her fol- 
lowers unless some new project could be hit upon 
to divert their attention from too close a scrutiny 
into her motives and conduct ; she therefore, m 
consultation with a few of her confidential advisers, 
proposed to them a tour into the state of Pennsyl- 
vania, to endeavor to draw proselytes from the 
Quakers, who were numerous, wealthy and res- 
pectable in Philadelphia and its vicinity. This 
enterprize was readily assented to by them, and on 



36 HISTORY OF 

ibeir recommendation agreed to by the society, 
and the necessary preparations immediately made 
lor the journey. She represented to the society 
that she had received a special mandate from 
Heaven to visit their distant brethren — that there 
were many Friends in Pennsylvania who waited tbt 
coming of the Lord— that she must go and preach 
to them awhile, and that in due time she should 
return. She exhorted them to be steadfast in the 
faith, and to persevere unto the end, and promised 
eternal happiness as the reward of those who obey- 
.1 her precept. She also recommended patience 
and meekness under persecution and afflictions, and 
whatever was allotted them, cautioning them not 
to regard the scoffs and sneers of worldly minded 
persons, for those were they who had not the love 
of the Lord in their hearts. In this way she, in a 
great measure s fortified them against the reasonings 
and admonitions of their friends, and prepared 
their minds to consider every thing as blasphemy 
and persecution which did not exactly comport with 
the absurd tenets which she had taught them.— 
Having made every necessary preparation, she 
started some time in the summer of 1782 for Phila- 
delphia, taking with her five of her most useful and 
devoted followers. She travelled leisurely, and 
preached at several places on the way, and made 
advances towards the Quakers whenever an op- 
portunity presented itself, but received very little 
countenance from them. On her arrival in Phila- 
delphia, she immediately made herself known as 
th? ■ ' Universal Friend of mankind," and gratuit- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 3D 

ously offered her instruction to all who were wil- 
ling to come and hear it. Her followers who came 
with her were very liberal in their assertions in re- 
lation to this extraordinary personage, and rehears- 
ed many marvellous stories about her death and 
resurrection, the evidences of her divinity, her pow- 
er to heal the sick and raise the dead ; and aver- 
red that they had been eye and ear witnesses of all 
they had asserted concerning her. Her sudden 
appearance in the city, and the extravagant asser- 
tions of her companions, produced considerable 
sensation and curiosity, insomuch that she was 
soon accommodated with an opportunity of 
displaying her oratory. In a short time she be- 
came a very popular preacher, and attracted great 
crowds to hear her. Her auditors at length be- 
came so numerous that it was with great difficulty 
a suitable place could be obtained sufficiently ca- 
pacious to contain them. An application was 
therefore made in her behalf to the trustees of the 
Methodist Episcopal St. George's Church, for the 
use of their building, which was granted her during 
her stay in that city. Jemima was now in her el- 
ement, attended by a numerous audienee, and 
preaching as often as suited her convenience, to 
thousands who admired the eloquence of the won- 
derful personage who had suddenly, as some of 
them supposed, burst upon mankind in a bluze of 
glory. She made a number of proselytes, excited 
much curiosity and astonishment, was treat- 
ed with great attention and hospitality, and lived 
for a short time in considerable splendor. She 
however kept herself somewhat secluded, except 



40 HISTORY 0^ 

when attending meetings, and suffered her presence 
to be approached only by her confidants and se- 
lect visitors ; she was therefore surrounded by a 
throng of idlers whenever she made her appear- 
ance in the street?. Under pretence of being in- 
commoded b}' the multitude, she induced her friends 
to provide a carriage for her conveyance whene- 
ver she went out. Although most people of intel- 
ligence became satisfied or disgusted on hearing a 
few recitals from Jemima, and discontinued their 
attendance at her meetings, yet their places were 
supplied by others from different parts of the city, so 
thai by a sort of succession of hearers her audience 
continued for some time undiminished. But at 
length her congregation began sensibly to de^ 
crease, reason triumphed in the minds of many, and 
curiosity became satisfied in others, and Jemima, 
by no means the last to discover these symptoms of 
desertion, and the reason thereof, suddenl} 7 took 
her leave of them, and removed her quarters into 
\Ue country. 

On the I9th of October, 1782, she arrived 
ivkh her retinue at the house of a Mr. W., in the 
town of Worcester, in the county of Montgomery, 
cbout tweniy miles from Philadelphia. The fame 
of Jemima had preceded her, and among the ho- 
nest and credulous Germans at this place she found 
a ready and cordial welcome. By assuming the 
gafrb and appearance of meekness and modesty, 
and pretending to be zealous professors of religion, 
Jcmim^a and her companions gained much upon 
the confidence of their entertainers ; meetings were 
appointed and numerously attended. But Jemi- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 41 

m&, remembering the falling off of her hearers ia 
Philadelphia, resolved to provide against a similar 
result here. She accordingly held her meetings 
very frequent!} 7 , preached zealously, exhorted ear- 
nestly and prayed fervently ; and withal took 
occasion frequently to deplore the necessity of her 
speedy return to her dearly beloved flock in Rhode 
Island. After a few weeks residence in Worcester, 
Jemima and her train took up their line of march 
for the land of their fathers, and so successfully had 
this crafty woman practiced upon the credulity of 
these simple and unsuspecting people, that they re- 
ally thought her some very extraordinary person- 
age, but who, or what she was, they could not ex- 
actly conjecture ; for she had not as yet deigned to 
inform them, in direct terms, that she was their 
Saviour, although she had frequently thrown out 
hints that she was something more than common 
persons, and sometimes in the presence of particu- 
lar individuals, she would speak of the " Lord's 
mercies," and the " Friend's favors," in the same 
conversation, and in such a manner as to leave their 
minds in doubt as to her real meaning. Many had 
become much attached to her, and therefore on her 
departure supplied her with the means of prosecu- 
ting her journey with ease and comfort, a point al- 
ways of the first importance with Jemima. Some 
accompanied her a day's journey, and many fol- 
lowed her with benedictions, and their prayers for 
the safety of her journey. On her return to Rhode- 
Island, she found her societies there nearly in the same 
state in which she left them ; a very few of the 

»2 



42 HISTORY OF 

members had fallen off, but the most of them ob- 
stinately persevered in those errors wbieh they had 
suddenly embraced and still believed, or were 
ashamed to acknowledge and abandon. Her peo- 
ple received her with those marks of joy which testi- 
fied their zeal and constancy in her service, and 
were so eager to hear her preach again, after an 
absence of a few months, that Jemima held her pub- 
lic meetings daily for about a week, when their 
longings becoming somewhat satisfied, the old or- 
der of things was restored, and she found leisure to 
travel about the country and preach and practice 
her arts ofdelusionas formerly. In this business she 
had become a complete adept, and during the re- 
mainder of her residence in that country practiced 
many impostures with the view of establishing a be- 
lief in her Messiahship, by which means she fully 
confirmed her credulous followers in the faith of 
her divinity ; but the community at large believed 
her to be a poor miserable enthusiast, and being a 
female, they were more ready to pity her lunacy, 
than to attempt to disturb her or the society in the 
enjoyment of those opinions which they appeared 
to entertain with sincerity. The impositions which 
she attempted to practice in working miracles, heal- 
ing the sick, and raising the dead, and pretending 
to know by immediate inspiration from Heaven, 
•the secrets of the heart, with many other abomina- 
ble impostures, will be noted hereafter, when we 
come to speak more particularly of her doctrines 
and character, and her conduct as a teacher of di- 
vinity. 

Jcrr.ima continued with her New-England fol- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 43 

lowers until the summer of 1784, when she judged 
it expedient to make another visit to Philadelphia 
and Montgomery county, She had received let- 
ters from her friends at the latter place, urging her 
to return to them as soon as she could be spared 
from her beloved flock in Rhode-Island. She 
travelled by easy stages, stopped at several places 
to preach and seek for proselytes, and finally arri- 
ved at the house of her old friend Mr. W., in the 
town of Worcester, on the 28th of August, 1784, 
where she found a cordial and hearty welcome. — 
This man was a very wealthy farmer, and possessed 
considerable influence in his town ; and the coun- 
tenance and protection which Jemima received 
from him, was of great service to her in prosecuting 
her plans in this quarter, and she failed not to avail 
herself of these advantages to the extent of her in- 
fluence. She now proceeded to organize a society 
and establish rules and regulations for the govern- 
ment of the members. One of the farms of Mr. 
W. was wholly given up to her and the retinue 
which she brought with her* to cultivate for their 
subsistence ; and the commodious and elegant stone 
dwelling on it became the mansion and residence 
of Jemima and her minions. They enjoyed the 
use of the premises, together with the stock and 
farming utensils, as if the properly had been their 
own. Yet this did not satisfy these insatiable cor* 
morants, for whatever Jemima wanted was almost 
uniformly extorted from the deluded members of 
the society, on receiving an intimation from her 
that "the Lord hath need of it." In levying these 
contributions, Jemima limited herself only by the 



41 HISTORY OF 

ability and probable disposition of her followers to 
comply with her unhallowed and avaricious ex- 
actions. 

During this residence in Pennsylvania, she fre- 
quently visited Philadelphia, and some other parts 
of the state, and was always furnished with carriages 
and attendants at the expense of her society. She 
now gave them to understand that she was intrust- 
ed with the execution of a special message from 
Heaven, and the old story of the death of Jemima 
Wilkinson, and the re-animation of her body by the 
Power and Spirit of Christ, was, with additional 
circumstances of mystery and solemnity, told to 
her wondering votaries, by her interested and w T ell 
instructed confidants, who came with her from 
Rhode-Island, and who with one accord bore po- 
sitive testimony to the truth of these extravagant and 
outrageous assertions. They were ready on all 
occasions to relate the wonderful miracles which 
she had wrought in their own country, and to which 
they had been eye and ear witnesses. As a far- 
fetched story generalty goes down better than any 
other, and as the great distance of the place, at 
which these performances were located, precluded 
the possibility of immediate detection, the relators 
were as bold in propagating these extravagant ab- 
surdities as their new friends were credulous in re- 
ceiving them. Thus did this cunning hypocrite 
effectually fasten herself upon a considerable num- 
ber of the unsuspecting inhabitants of Worcester, 
as a Prophetess, and in fact as a messenger from 
Heaven, in whose hands was the absolute disposal of 
their destinies, and led them to believe that their 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 45 

future happiness or misery depended on their faith 
ki the divinity of her character and person. 

Being now engaged in her favourite pursuit, and 
finding some symptoms of success, Jemima exerted 
all her industry and ingenuity to establish a society 
which should acknowledge her claims to divinity jr 
in which she was much assisted by her creatures, 
whom she always kept about her person, and who 
acted as spies and listeners, carrying an account of 
whatever they saw or heard immediately to her. — 
To prove herself entitled to their confidence, she 
pretended to know all the secrets of their hearts, and 
by her legerdemain soon convinced them of the? 
fact. 

Among those who visited her, some were promp- 
ted by curiosity, and others by a desire to learn 
whether she knew their secret thoughts ; on their 
arrival, Jemima would retire to her private apart- 
ment, on the second floor, leaving her assistants 
below to receive them. Here they were engaged 
in conversation as long as circumstances required, 
during which time, Jemima's instruments drew 
from them as much of the history of their private 
griefs, or whatever was uppermost in their minds, 
as they could obtain, which was always carefully 
and specifically related to Jemima before she gave 
audience to her visitors. By this contrivance, she 
was generally enabled to satisfy them that she 
knew the object of their journey, what they had 
heard of herself, and in some instances, what they 
thought ; and she was rarely liable to err when she 
informed them how much they were susprised to 
find her able to divine their cogitations without any 



46 HISTORY OF 

previous conversation with them. By such tricky 
and various others, in which her attendants were 
well instructed as to the part they were to act, Je- 
mima made herself mistress of the affections and 
confidence of her submissive followers. 

Having established a society, and appointed two 
of her most able managers to superintend its wel- 
fare, she, in the spring of 1785, returned to her old 
station in Rhode-Island, after an absence of about 
nine months. On her arrival there, Jemima found 
some symptoms of decay; some had abandoned 
the society, and many were lukewarm, having al- 
most recovered their senses. But by the activity 
and skilful management of their Priestess, the old 
order of things was soon restored. She preached 
to them with increased animation, exhorted the 
faithful to persevere, and the backsliders to return 
to their first love, and threatened the disobedient 
with the most terrible punishments. In the mean 
time, those who had returned with her from Penn- 
sylvania, lost no opportunity of relating the won- 
derful things she had performed during her ab- 
sence, and the flattering prospects of the new society 
she had formed in that country. 13 y these means, 
she soon surmounted all difficulties, and rose in the 
estimation of her society still higher than before. 

A correspondence was now opened between Je- 
mima and her Ministers in Worcester, by which 
the most minute circumstance which occurred in 
either of these places, was instantly transmitted to 
the other. It therefore frequently happened, that 
the events of that period were known to the heads 
V>f these two societies before they cair,£ to the 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 47 

lue members, the substance of which 
was then stated to them by way of prophecy. — 
This tended much to assist Jemima in keeping the 

ascendency In the minds of her followers, so that 
she managed her concerns for about three years 
very successfully. 

But her agents at Worcester were not quite so 
fortunate. They were younger (in jugglery at 
least) than Jemima, had less hardihood, and in 
passing off pretendc Ties and mummery they 

were al r her inferiors. The society also, 

not believing them to be more than mere human 
beings, stood in less fear of their authority. The 
Society became less fervent in their devotion to the 
interests of Jemima, and less observant of the duties 
inculcated by her ministers, and some levity began 
at length to make its appearance among the young- 
er part of the Society. Jemima was regularly in- 
formed of these circumstances, and from time to 
time forwarded instructions accordingly. But at 
length, fearing an entire overthrow of her power 
and influence, she sent out one of her sisters to su- 
persede the old Managers ; one of whom was or- 
dered home to Rhode-Island. She came armed 
with orders to institute a fast among them, in order 
to humble their pride and bring them back to a 
sense of their duty. The instructions of this new 
Missionary were privately submitted to the princi- 
pal and most influential members of the Society, 
who were informed that she had also a dispensa- 
tion from the Friend for such as had remained more 
steadfast in the faith, and steady in their practice, 
and that the fast could be graduated according to 



4b HISTORY OF 

the merits and demerits of the members. The-;, 
were accordingly classed off in detail, and ordered 
to fast, some three, some seven, some ten, and so on 
to forty days, upon a pound of bread and a pint of 
water per day. Particular care, however, was ta- 
ken, to inform the wealthy and most important 
members, whom they did not dare to disoblige by 
too much severity, for fear of losing them, that the 
Lord knew their hearts, that they were faithful, 
and the peculiar objects of her love and affection, 
and that the fast, as respected them, was altogeth- 
er dispensed with, excepting so far as they chose 
voluntarily to comply with it ; but in order that all 
the members might be satisfied^ and submit to the 
Friend's authority without murmuring, it was in- 
dispensably necessary that they should, to all out- 
ward appearance, conform strictly to the requisi- 
tion, and not on any account suffer it to be known 
that this indulgence had been granted them. This 
important and comfortable communication was 
privately and separately made to the favorite few r ? 
and each being flattered w T ith the idea that he was 
the special object of the regard and indulgence of 
so great a personage, tended considerably to in- 
crease their zeal in her service, and induced them 
to obey strictly the injunction, to appear to fast, 
and at the same time to keep secret the fact that they 
did not fast. But those who were less favored were 
compelled for many days to subsist upon their 
scanty allowance ; their strength became impaired, 
and their spirits broken down ; the} strove all iti 
their power to make amends for past negligencies, 
and convince the presiding Spirit of their entire do 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 49 

votion to the will and disposal of Jemima. This 
scheme was conducted with .so. much cunning and 
skill as to produce the desired effect. The mem- 
bers became more orderly, and evinced more devo- 
tion than formerly, and, with few exceptions, yield- 
ed the most implicit obedience to the managemen 
and discipline of their new mistress. From this 
time the government and instruction of the Society 
remained in the hands of the sister of Jemima until 
the third arrival of the "Universal Friend" in Penn- 
sylvania. 

In the mean time she superintended in person the 
concerns of her New-England flock, but with less 
success than formerly. She therefore, in conjunc- 
tion with some of her most enterprising followers, 
set on foot the project of removing into the western, 
part of the state of New- York, which was then a 
wilderness. Some funds were collected and ar- 
rangements made for effecting a purchase of new 
lands, on which to settle with such of her proselytes 
as were willing to follow her. In this enterprise 
Jemima exhibited more talent and mental forecast, 
than in any Other act of her whole life. She had 
exhausted all her means of extending that delusion 
upon which alone she could rely for additions to 
her Society in that country, or even for retaining, 
for any considerable length of time, those who then 
belonged to it. The increase of education, the 
spread of useful knowledge, and the consequent en- 
largement of the human mind which had succeeded 
to the dark and gloomy period of the Revolution, 
had already checked the promulgation of her per- 



50 HISTORY OF 

liicions tenets, andMireatened the final overthrow 
of her cause. To emigrate with her followers into 
an entire wilderness, where, as she supposed, they 
would remain for a long time without the means of 
ordinary instruction, and in a great measure cut 
off from a constant intercourse with an enlighten- 
ed community, seemed more likely to perpetuate 
her dominion, and to promise the most probable 
means of rivetting their chains so effectually as to 
enable her to maintain her authority and secure for 
herself a support among them during the residue 
of her life. 

The country being new and unsettled, wild and 
uncultivated lands were cheap : a small fund would 
therefore enable them to purchase a sufficient body 
of land for the whole Society, besides a select tract 
for the particular accommodation of herself, which, 
as the country gradually settled, would become 
valuable, and in process of time constitute a hand- 
some fortune. She accordingly exerted all the 
powers of her masculine mind for the accom- 
plishment of this object, spoke in raptures of the 
delightful country of the Lakes, recounted all the 
flattering stories she had heard of the great fertility 
of the soil, and the extreme cheapness of the lands, 
called it the H New Jerusalem" flowing with milk 
and honey, and dwelt with great earnestness on the 
comfort and satisfaction they should enjoy on re- 
tiring from the sneers and scoffs of a vain world, 
where the wicked would " cease from troubling, 
and the weary find rest." By these arguments she 
easily prevailed on apart of the Society to adopt 
ixer plans. The poor and needy, (about whom she 



JEMIMA WILKINSON, 51 

cared the least) having little to fear from any 
change, were ever ready to follow her any where 
and on any conditions. Others feeling the awk- 
wardness of their situation, on account of the 
strange whims which they had adopted, and being 
frequently Tiard pushed for arguments to support 
the opinions they professed to entertain, seemed 
willing to relieve themselves from the difficulty and 
trouble of thinking, by retiring to the forest, where 
they would have nothing to do but to cultivate the 
earth, and believe in the doctrines, and follow 
the directions of their leader. An attempt was 
made to raise a fund to make a purchase for the 
joint benefit of the Society. But with those whose 
acquiescence was most necessary, Jemima found 
more difficulty. Possessed of ample means of sup- 
port for themselves and their families, and having 
long been accustomed to those enjoyments which a 
highly cultivated country, and an improved state 
of society afford, they were unwilling to forego 
these advantages and embark in an enterprise, the 
benefits of which were considered distant and un- 
certain. Jemima who was rarely ever at a loss in 
devising ways and means far the accomplishment 
of her purposes, soon hit upon an expedient by 
which the one thing needful w as easily procured- 
One of her female coadjutors who had been left in 
charge of the Society at Worcester, had been recalr 
led at or about the time. Jemima sent her sister 
there. This woman had been residing in the fam- 
ily of Mr. 3 then Treasurer of the state of 

Rhode-Island, and a plan was laid and carried ir* 
to execution, by these two worthy teachers of reli- 



02 HISTORY OF 

gion and morality, which enabled them to cbtaiu 
a peep at the inside of the Treasurer's strong box, 
whence they took about two thousand dollars* The 
discovery of this robbery occasioned a great dis- 
turbance among some of Jemima's principal follow- 
ers ; search and enquiry were immediately set on 
foot, and Jemima, fearing a criminal prosecution 
against herself, as a participator in the crime, ab- 
sconded in the night accompanied by two or three 
cf her followers. She made the best of her way to 
Worcester, in Pennsylvania, whither she had caus- 
ed a part of the money to be sent for safe keeping, 
where she arrived in the month of December, se- 
venteen hundred and eighty seven, with the residue 
of the booty. Messengers were immediately sent in 
pursuit — one of whom followed her to this retreat, 
nhere he overtook her almost at the. moment of her 
arrival, and boldly demanded the purloined money, 
and threatened an immediate exposure unless it 
was instantly given up. Jemima denied all knowl- 
edge of the transaction with the most perfect com- 
posure and hardihood ; but her pursuer beings 
resolute man, was not to be satisfied with her as- 
severations — that she had the money he was certain, 
and he pushed the business of his journey with so 
much vigour and firmness, that Jemima was com- 
pelled to submit the house to an immediate search, 
under such restrictions as should effectually pre- 
clude the possibility of concealing or removing the 
money. In this search, he found in one of Jemi- 
ma's travelling trunks, eight hundred dollars, which 
dhe gave up without hesitation, alledging that it 
had been put there without her privity or consent, 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 53 

that it was not hers, that she knew not to whom it 
belonged, and if he claimed it he was welcome to 
take it. Finding no traces of the residue of the 
money, he returned to Rhode-Island, leaving this 
holy sisterhood to regret the failure, in part, of a 
scheme, in the execution of which, they had haz- 
arded so much, and from the avails of which they 
had intended to purchase the land of promise. This 
was an unfortunate affair, as it involved the repu- 
tation of two or three wealthy and very respecta- 
ble families, and in order to save the innocent from 
unmerited disgrace, it became necessary to let the 
guilty escape punishment. The business was there- 
fore kept as still as possible, the balance of the nio- 
new was paid by the friends of one of the person* 
implicated, and there the matter ended. 

But the sudden and mysterious flight of Jemimft 
produced great consternation among the faithful. 
They recollected the solemn admonitions and af- 
fectionate farewells with which she had, on all for- 
mer occasions, parted with them when about to visit 
the distant brethren, and the appeals she had made 
to their sense of duty In regard to furnishing the 
necessary supplies for her journies. But bow she 
was suddenly missing, and whither she had gone. 
or for what purpose, no one could tell — all was 
darkness, doubt and difficulty. The facts, howe- 
ver, soon transpired, and so disgusted many of her 
followers that they immediately abandoned the So- 
ciety. Some few, however, were so credulous as 
to believe the story a fabrication of evil minded 
persons, for the purpose of persecution : and other? 

e2 . 



54 HISTORY OF 

disbelieved that part of it which charged Jemima 

with any agency in the robbery. These retained 
their faith in her, and afterwards removed to On- 
tario count} 7 , where they met Jemima on her leav- 
ing Pennsylvania. The Society in Rhode-Island 
was effectually broken up. the residue of the mem- 
bers fell off and became scattered, having no head 
or leader, Jemima not daring ever after to show her 
face among them. 

Thus ended the career of this canting hypocrite 
in the stateof Rhode-Island and its neighbourhood, 
and with it, her ministrations to a deluded people, 
whose credulity she had practiced upon almost be- 
yond belief, and whose characters and fortunes she 
had wantonly jeopardized, to gratify the most sor- 
did and insatiable avarice. Rut her history is not 
ended. — New scenes of mocker}, intrigue, conster- 
nation and flight, yet remain to be described, in 
which it will appear, that instead of profiting by 
the indulgence shown her in her late dilemma, she 
was maturing new plans of imposture and fraud, for 
the attainment of the object which she had long 
pursued with unremitting industry and persever- 
ance. 

The gentleman who followed her to Pennsylva- 
nia in pursuit of the money, having secured what 
could be found, had no further business to transact 
with Jemima and her household, and ihey being 
willing to dispense with his company, he had im- 
mediately left them to their meditations. His visit 
was known to but few, and the object of it proba- 
bly to none but Jemima and her confidants. This 
circumstance therefore made no impression on he 7 ' 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 55 

Society there, who were much rejoiced to have the 
" Public Universal Friend," (as they called her,) 
again among them ; and when the story of her par- 
ticipation in the robbery, and her consequent flight, 
reached them, it had got so far from home, that it 
was easily contradicted and put down as the off- 
spring of malice and persecution, and tended rather 
to strengthen the bands which bound them to their 
folly, than to awaken a rational enquiry into the 
truth of an allegation of such a serious nature. 

Jemima now enquired diligently into the state of 
the Society, and of the conduct and demeanor of the 
members, and having received a specific account 
from her ministers who had remained with them, 
was at no great difficulty as to the course most ex- 
pedient for her to pursue. Several of the members 
had shown some symptoms of levity in conversation, 
for which Jemima lectured them with great sever- 
ity, and the more effectually to reform them, she 
ordered a " silent fast," which consisted in refrain- 
ing from speaking or laughing for a limited time. 
This penance was, however, confined to the most 
garrulous, and was graduated, as to its duration, 
from one to three days, as suited the whim or ca- 
price of Jemima. 

Some of the poor deluded creatures, in attempt- 
ing to comply with this requisition, afforded con- 
siderable sport, to those who did not belong to the 
Society, by breaking the fast. One woman in par- 
ticular, who had been all her life accustomed to 
talk and laugh with impunity, and almost constant- 
ly, "broke her fast," as they termed it, several 
times^ and ted to begin again. Jemima at length 



J6 HISTORY OF 

ordered her mouth to be sealed up with wafers and 
slips of paper, or linen rags. But with this help, 
she endured the dreadful privation but a short time, 
some amusing circumstance coming suddenly with- 
in her observation, she abruptly burst the bands of 
her slavery, roared into a loud laugh, and declared 
she would not again attempt to hold her peace three 
days, for the Friend or any body else. Jemima 
reprimanded her with great severity and gravity, 
and ordered her immediately to resume her pen- 
ance ; but to no purpose, she absolutely refused, 
and told Jemima she was a fool to think of prevent- 
ing any woman from talking or laughing for three 
days together ; which so enraged Jemima, that she 
gave her a most violent scolding, and sent her back 
to Philadelphia where she found her. 

After Jemima had established her Society at 
Worcester, she made it her business to become ac- 
quainted with the private history of every fam- 
ily in the neighbourhood. In the course of her 
enquiries, she learned that a woman who belonged 
to her Society, and who was a devoted follower, 
had given offence to her father by marrying against 
his consent, in consequence of which, he had, by 
his will, excluded her from any participation of 
his ample fortune, which, at his death, he divided 
equally among his other children. On becoming 
acquainted with these facts, Jemima laid a plan to 
obtain from them that portion which would have 
fallen to their sister, in case of an equal distribu- 
tion. As they were all members of the Society, 
she summoned them before her, and with an air 
of grekt mystery, informed them that in a vision 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. jr 

the preceding night, she had seen their father, that 
he was in the regions of torment, suffering the pun- 
ishment which had been inflicted on him for exclu- 
ding his daughter from an equal participation with 
them in fiis estates, and that he could never be re- 
lieved from those torments until each of them paid 
her such sums, either in money or in property, as 
would in the aggregate, amount to an equal share 
of the estate he had left among them* She was 
also particularly requested to state to them, that 
the old gentleman had appointed her guardian and 
trustee to- their sister, and that it was his express 
will and direction, that they should pay the amount 
to her for their sister's benefit. This last part of 
Jemima's message, \vhich from its very nature 
w r ould have disclosed the cloven foot to any per- 
son of common sense, who was not under her fatal 
influence, was rendered plausible by the pretext, 
that if the amount w r as paid to their sister, her hus- 
band, from whom she had parted on joining the 
Societ}^, would claim the possession of it ; and it 
was still the old gentleman's will, that Philip, his 
daughter's husband, shouid never have a farthing 
of his property. She then descanted largely upon 
the solemn obligation which they were under to do 
all in their power to redeem their parent from those 
dreadful torments to which he was then subjected, 
and effectually convinced them, that to refuse to 
comply with this requirement, would subject then* 
to a like punishment, for continuing the injustice 
which had been done to their sister. The conse- 
quence was, that they immediately compounded, 
by paying to Jemima the amount required, and m 



33 HISTORY OF 

a few days after, they received from Jemima the 
joyful news, that their father was relieved from his 
thraldom, that his soul was at rest in the regions of 
bliss, and had sent his blessing to his dutiful chil- 
dren, who had so promptly contributed to his re- 
lief. 

Philip was a barber by occupation, and resided 
in the city of Philadelphia, and although he had 
not been heart broken at the loss of his wife on 
iheir first parting, yet now that a due share of her 
father's fortune was paid her, he thought her worth 
looking after. He soon after made a visit to Wor- 
cester, in the expectation of prevailing upon her to 
return and live with him ; but Jemima understand- 
ing perfectly his intentions, and not feeling dispo- 
sed so soon to part with her ward and give an ac- 
count of her guardianship, kept the woman out of 
his way, gave poor Philip a rude reception, and af- 
ter lecturing him violently, sent him back as rich 
as he came. He afterwards made various attempts 
to obtain an interview with his wife, but Jemima 
was too cunning, and always found means to de- 
feat him. She always entertained the hope, that 
as long as the woman remained with her, he would 
not commence legal proceedings against her to re- 
cover the property : but if her disciple left her, and 
returned to her husband, there would be no excuse 
for detaining it, and she would be obliged, in order 
to keep up ev?n the outward appearance of com- 
mon honesty, to account for ail she had received, 
which by the by she was determined never to do. 

Philip was highly enraged at the treatment he 
received from Jemima, and threatened her with a 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. ^50 

prosecution for harboring his wife, and also for de- 
taining the property. These threats gave Jemi- 
ma a great deal of uneasiness, and kept her in con- 
stant dread of "persecution" as she alledged, but 
in fact, it was justice, and the punishment which her 
misconduct merited, which she stood most in fear 
of, and she soon after absconded in the night, in 
consequence of receiving information that her ar- 
rest and punishment was meditated by those who 
bad suffered by her knaveries. The history of this 
flight is somewhat interesting on account of the hi* 
dicrous circumstances which led to, and attended 
it, and the awkward situation in which it placed 
Jemima. It also proves clearly the hypocrisy of 
her professions of religion, and betrays on her part 
a consciousness of guilt, which casts upon her mo- 
ral and religious character, a deeper and more in- 
delible stain than could have resulted from almost 
-any other combination of circumstances, or the 
testimony of a multitude of witnesses. Her socie- 
ty was numerous, and some of the members wealthy* 
and all were so devoted to her cause, and so deen- 
ly interested in supporting and protecting the char- 
acter and welfare of the Society, with which those 
of Jemima were inseparably connected, that had 
she heen arrested, they would have spared no pains 
or expense in defending her. Of this disposition on 
their part, she ha»d already received ample proofs, 
and had she been innocent, she would have boldly 
met her accusers, jand triumphed in their defeat, 
which would have added greatly to her conse- 
quence with her own people, and to her public char- 
acter as a divine. 






60 HISTORY OF 

A young woman of good family and connec- 
tions in Philadelphia, had previously been attach- 
ed to Jemima, and believing her sincere in her pro- 
fessions of religion, had left her family and friends, 
and joined the Society at Worcester. She was an 
intelligent and interesting person, and one from 
whose influence Jemima palcufated to receive much 
assistance. It was therefore of some importance 
to Jemima to retain this person in the Society ; 
but from the integrity and correctness of the prin- 
ciples in which she had been educated, Jemima 
foresaw that if she was too suddenly let into the 
mysteries and secrets of the cabinet, her virtue and 
sense of duty would take the alarm, and occasion 
3)er to abandon them altogether. Great pains were 
therefore taken to prevent her from discovering the 
true character of this worthy sisterhood, and 
the motives which governed their conduct. But 
the utmost art of Jemima could not long impose 
upon her understanding — she plainly saw through 
the specious veil which had concealed a system of 
hypocrisy, impudence, and avarice, and being dis- 
gusted with the indelicacy of their conduct in pri- 
vate, and shocked at the impiety of their pretensions 
in public, she resolved to leave them altogether.— 
When this was made known to Jemima, she strove 
all in her power to induce her to change her de- 
termination, offered to give her the second station 
in the Society, painted in glowing colors the for- 
tune they would make by settling in the Lake coun- 
try, the ease and comfort which they would enjoy 
through life, explained to her the means by which 
fhe governed the Society with absolute sway, and 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. CI 

represented that they were so devoted to her, that 
they would not only provide for the support of h£r- 
^9}f and household, but would clear their lands, 
which in time would become valuable — that a large 
congregation of her disciples would arrive in that 
country from the eastern states, who, together with 
those that would follow them from Pennsylvania^ 
would compose a very large Society and form an 
immediatesettlement of a considerable tractof coun- 
try, and that her friend, if she would remain with 
her, should enjoy a full moiety of all these advan- 
tages and privileges. But it was all to no pur- 
pose ; the arguments and oifers by which Jemima 
attempted to retain in her company this virtuous 
woman, tended only to open her eyes to the dan- 
gers with which she was surrounded, and to the 
frauds by which Jemima had controlled her delu- 
ded and cheated followers. She therefore without 
further ceremony or delay abandoned the Society, 
and returned to her friends in Philadelphia. 

Jemima experienced much inconvenience from 
the loss of this woman. She durst not denounce 
her as an apostate and reprobate, for she had trust- 
ed her too far, and without doing this, she could 
not account for her secession to the satisfaction of 
the Society, without jeopardising her own charac- 
ter ; and besides, she still entertained hopes that 
her friend would return, and embrace the flattering 
offers which had been made to her. She therefore 
permitted little to be said on the subject, and 
for a long time the major part of the Society sup- 
posed she had gone on a visit, or on some mission 

F 



92 HISTORY OF 

from Jemima, In the spring following, however, 
Jemima determined on making an effort to recover 
her lost friend. For this purpose she despatched 
two of her most trusty and able negotiators to wait 
on her, and endeavor to induce her to return to the 
Society. On the arrival of these messengers at 
Philadelphia, they disclosed to the lady the object 
of their visit, accompanied with all the flattering 
prospects and promises which Jemima had author- 
ised them to hold forth, and adding how greatly 
she was beloved by the Society, how much her ab- 
sence had been regretted by them, and how neces- 
sary her return was to their comfort and happiness. 
But she was not to be won by these professions ; 
she had become effectually weaned from her person- 
al friendship for Jemima, and now abhorred the a- 
bomi nable practices by which she governed her 
spell-bound adherents ; and moreover, knowing 
something of Jemima's temper, and suspecting 
treachery, she would not again trust herself in the 
power of one who she considered capable of any 
thing which promised success to her schemes of a- 
varice and ambition. She also thought it extreme- 
ly unfortunate for her followers, that they should 
be thus imposed on, by the wiles and machinations 
of a person who was so totally unworthy of their 
confidence. She had heard the story of the rob- 
bery in Rhode-Island, and was not altogether ig- 
norant of Jemima's participation in that nefarious 
transaction. She also knew the history of her dif- 
ficulties with Philip, the barber, and that she was 
in constant fear of a prosecution from him. She 
therefore conceived the idea of alarming Jemima 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 65 

on these subjects, and thereby precipitating her re- 
moval to the western wilds before she could 
mature her plans for taking her Society with her* 
Accordingly she listened patiently to the proposals 
of her visitors, and then in a very polite and friend- 
ly manner informed them, that she could not return 
with them — that although she had a great affection 
for the Society, yet she had concluded to remain 
with her friends, and as a testimony of her gratitude 
for their friendship and kindness, she would give 
them a piece of information which had come to her 
knowledge just before their arrival, and which was 
of great importance to them all, and particularly 
to the " Universal Friend." She then informed 
them that Philip, the bnrber- had organized a large 
party, and engaged the Sheriff and Constables i6 
accompany them to Worcester to bring away his 
wife and to arrest Jemima, and bring her to Phila- 
delphia, and that after punishing her for harboring 
his wife and detaining their property, he intended 
to deliver her over to the Sheriff of Providence, 
who, she said, was then in the city, waiting an op- 
portunity of catching Jemima to carry her back to 
Rhode-Island, to take her trial for stealing the mo- 
ney found in her trunk on her last arrival at Worces- 
ter. She said they had gotten every thing in rea- 
diness, and would start the next morning, and there- 
fore very earnestly begged her visitants to retism 
with as much expedition as possible, and inform 
the Friend of the dangers which awaited her. 

This unwelcome news so alarmed these two no- 
table ambassadors, that ihey immediately mounted 
their horses, and returned in full gallop to apprize 



64 HISTORY Of 

their dear mistress of the impending danger. The 
stone house was instantly in an uproar — Jemima 
sent for her friend Mr. W. whose funds, teams, and 
carriages were at her command on all emergencies : 
he ordered np a waggon and horses, and about 
midnight Jemima and two of her female coadjutor?, 
with their baggage, under the care of a trusty dri- 
ver, started for their "New Jerusalem." Con- 
scious guilt, and the consequent fear of pursuit and 
punishment, rendered these fugitives almost fran- 
tic. Jemima in particular, who had the most to 
fear, constantly urged the driver to push his team, 
nor would she permit him to stop a moment for 
rest or refreshment. They had a noble span of 
horses* and so diligently and vigorously did they 
prosecute their flight, that by seven o'clock the 
next morning they arrived at a creek called Bush- 
kiil, a distance of fifty miles from whence they 
started. But here a sad accident happened, which 
very nearly cost the lives of the whole party, and 
effectually put an end to their journey. 

This creek, though a small one, had been 9*vol~ 
len by recent rains, and now the rapid current fil- 
led its hanks and rendered the passage of our tra- 
vellers altogether impracticable. On their arrival 
they halted for a moment, and called to an old man 
who was standing at a little distance from the op- 
posite shore, and enquired whether they could ford 
the creek with safety ? to which he replied in the 
negative ; but misunderstanding his answer, and 
being goaded on by the fear of pursuit, they im- 
mediately entered the stream. The horses began 
to swim, the party became alarmed, and Jemima, 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 6^ 

In an agony of vexation and fright, ordered 
the driver to stop the horses, which was no sootier 
done than the front wheels and axletree separated 
from the residue of the carriage, which, with the 
cargo, floated down the currrent, while the driver 
and horses turned and came out of the wate* 
near where they had entered. The women scram- 
bled out of the carriage, and one of them seized the 
friendly branches of a little willow T which overhung 
the water, and drew herself to the shore. The dri- 
ver plunged into the stream on one side, and the old 
gentleman on the other, and with great hazard and 
difficulty saved the other two. When they brought 
Jemima to the shore she was senseless, and it was 
not without great exertions that they could resusci- 
tate her. In the interim, the trusty driver, who 
was also a disciple, and the two female companions 
of Jemima's flight were in great perplexity ; they 
began to apprehend that the spirit, which, accord* 
iftg to the creed of the Society, had re-animated the 
body of Jemima Wilkinson, and which was to con- 
tinue therein and reign a thousand years, had taken 
a premature flight, and had left them the difficult 
task of accounting for her sudden exit consistently 
with the character which they had ascribed to her. 
Their fears and sorrows however, soon gave place 
to gladness and joy — Jemima began to exhibit 
symptoms of returning life, and their perseverance 
was at length crowned with the happiness of seeing 
her open her eyes, and hearing her eaquire, in faint 
and tremulous accents, what country they were in ? 
They carried her to the house of the hospitable 

f2 



UG HISTORY OF 

stranger, where she was taken such care of as her 
deplorable situation required, and his scanty means 
could furnish. The driver, with the assistance of 
the neighbours, regained the carriage, but the bag- 
gage of the travellers was almost entirely lost. 

Jemima had lain so long in the water in a state 
of insensibility that her health was materially af- 
fected ; she was altogether unable to travel, and 
was therefore compelled, notwithstanding the fears 
which racked her terrified mind, to postpone the 
further prosecution of her journey until the next 
day. 

And here we will leave this worthy group, ta 
the full enjoyment of those sensations which the ad- 
ventures of the night, and the disasters of the morn- 
ing, were calculated to produce, and return to our 
friends at Worcester, who by this time are begin- 
ning to stand in great need of our immediate at- 
tention. 

Among the early followers of Jemima, was a 
young woman by the name of Sarah Richards f 
who had left her husband and joined herself to the 
sisterhood. This person had been left in Rhode- 
Island, as a sort of administratrix to arrange the 
tmsettled business, both temporal and spiritual, of 
Jemima, which from the suddenness and secrecy of 
her flight, she had left in rather an unlucky pre- 
dicament. Having hastily patched up matters as 
well as circumstances would admit of, Sarah had 
followed the footsteps of her mistress, and taking 
Philadelphia in her route, had arrived at Worces- 
ter the same day that Jemima did at Bushkilh— 
Sarah, on learning the circumstances of Jemima's 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 67 

second flight, was in as great distress as the others 
had been the night before, not however from the 
same cause. Having passed through Philadelphia 
where all was quiet respecting Jemima, and the 
Sheriff not having made his appearance according 
to expectation, she saw clearly that it was all a mere 
farce — a hoax got up to test the power of Jemima 
to divine the secrets of men's* hearts. Her object, 
therefore, now was, to get information to her as 
soon as possible, and to hasten her return with all 
convenient speed, to assist in devising some myste- 
ry which might so cover the disgrace of her shame- 
ful flight, as to save appearances with the Society, 
and prevent that defection among them which a full 
developement of facts was calculated to produce. 
For this purpose, she applied with great earnest- 
ness to their old friend and supporter, Mr. W. — 
But this man now, for the first time, exhibited some 
symptoms of sanity as respected Jemima and her 
pretensions, since his acquaintance with her. His 
fortune, which was ample, had become considera- 
bly impaired, and his business deranged, partly by 
neglect and partly from the enormous expenses to 
which, on her account, he had been subjected. — 
Jemima had made her approaches to the mind and 
the purse of this unfortunate enthusiast, with such 
skill and address, and increased in her exactions 
so imperceptibly, that he had never found a conve- 
nient place to stop at until she had laid the founda- 
tion of his ruin. During the last residence of Je- 
mima at Worcester, she and her household had sub- 
sisted entirely on his means. They enjoyed the 
use of his best dwelling, two of his farms with all 



G3 HISTORY OF 

the stock and utensils, and had in their employ the 
principal part of the time, from twelve to fourteen 
of his horses, with saddles, harness, carriages and 
waggons, without money and without price, and 
which they used with far less care and economy 
than is usual with the owners of such property. — 
The clothing of Jemima and her principal women, 
w r as purchased almost exclusively with his money, 
and was of the finest and most expensive kind. — 
By these means he had become involved in debt, 
and now began to experience difficulties to which 
he had not previously been accustomed. These 
sat heavy on his mind, and the shock which his 
faith had received, on witnessing the frailty and 
flight of Jemima, had almost determined him to a- 
bandon her interests, and take care of his own. — 
But Sarah Richards was persevering and vehement 
in her importunities. She painted in glowing co- 
lours the hardships and dangers to which the Friend 
would be subjected, by hurrying, without any pre- 
vious preparation, from the walks of civilized man, 
to the haunts of savages and wild beasts — the total 
overthrow of her influence among her Society, 
which was then large and flourishing, the dishonor 
which would be brought upon her cause, in which 
he was interested in common with herself, and re- 
minded him of the disgrace which would attach to 
him in the eyes of the Society, if he permitted her 
to proceed after the deception had been detected ; 
and moreover flattered him w r ith the prospect of the 
great advancement which Jemima would vouch- 
safe to him, provided he would once more exert 
himself for her benefit and relief; and so success- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 61) 

fully did she appeal to his alternate hopes and fears, 
that the old gentleman at length began to waver, 
and finally consented to go in pursuit of the unfor- 
tunate fugitives. He mounted his best saddle horse i 
early the next morning, and at evening alighted at 
the house of the honest old man, who had contri- 
buted to the preservation and restoration of Jemima, 
and who was now heartily rejoiced at the prospect 
of being soon rid of his mendicant visitors. Jemw 
ma was much surprised and alarmed at first sight 
of her old friend, but a moment's explanation dis- 
pelled her fears and raised her drooping spirits. — 
She extolled the goodness of her friend, gave him 
her warmest thanks for all his kindness, and parti- 
cularly this last instance of his disinterested zeal for 
her welfare, in return for which she promised him 
future happiness without measure. 

The next morning the little party gathered up the 
remains of their baggage, which had been saved 
from the flood, and started for Worcester, whither 
they arrived the same evening, worn out with anx- 
iety and fatigue. Jemima confined herself to her 
room until the Sabbath following, when she was o- 
bliged to appear in public and preach to the Socie- 
ty. But a great difficulty now arose : how was- 
she to explain to the Society her unceremonious de- 
parture, and equally sudden return ? The occa- 
sion of her journey too, and whither she had been ? 
These were subjects upon which she knew her fol- 
lowers would expect information, and upon which 
she felt very little inclination to be communicative ; 
and moreover she and her two companions had un- 
fortuuately lost their braver hats, and had not had 



70 HISTORY OF 

time to replace them with new ones, and they had 
always been accustomed to sit in their public meet- 
ings with their heads covered. Her skill was now 
put to the severest test 5 but her prolific mind soon 
devised the means of surmounting all difficulties* — 
The teamster and the two women who shared with- 
her m the fatigues and dangers of the journey, were 
charged to give no answers whatever to any inqui- 
ries which might be made on the subject of the jour- 
ney, but to meet with a silent frown, every inqui- 
sitive word or look, and leave her to give such an 
account of the circumstances as she thought pro- 
per. When the meeting assembled, they found Je- 
mima and her confidants with their heads bare, a 
circumstance which excited the wonder and com- 
passion of her followers, and the sneers and signifi- 
cant looks of the rest of her audience. She p reach- 
ed to the meeting as usual, exhorting them to " run 
with patience the race set before them,** and to be 
strong in the faith, and cautioned them against 
prying into matters that did not concern their fu- 
ture welfare. The circumstances which occasion- 
ed her flight, and the untoward accident which 
terminated her journey, were known to but few, and 
tfhese being interested to silence, the whole assum- 
ed an air of mystery and began to pass olf without 
much danger of exposure, and in about two 
weeks the Society settled down into the old beaten 
track, and began to wear the aspect of prosperity 
and contentment. Bat from a circumstance which 
might easily have been foreseen, the whole riddle 
was unfolded, to the no small chagrin and raartifi- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. tl 

cation of Jemima and the faithful, and to the great 
amusement of the unbelievers. 

The party on leaving Bustrkill had offered a re- 
ward of ten dollars for the recovery of the three 
beaver hats, (the original cost of which was about 
thirty dollars,) and had left directions where the 
owners resided. The old gentleman at whose house 
Jemima had tarried after her ducking, on making 
diligent search, after the flood had subsided, found 
the hats, and now made his appearance claiming 
the reward. But they had lain so long hi the wa- 
ter that they were nearly ruined, and Jemima refu- 
sed to pay the stipulated bounty ; and being now 
safe in the old stone house, fearing no danger from 
the furious current of Bnshkil!. -he could easily dis- 
pense with any further acquaintance with the good 
man, from whom she had nothing further to expect; 
she therefore ordered him to be dismissed without e- 
ven vouchsafing him an audience* This so enraged 
the old gentleman, particularly the refusal to pay 
the promised reward, that he proclaimed Jemima's 
perfidy and ingratitude, together with a full history 
q{ this ludicrous adventure, throughout the whole 
neighbourhood, and along the road as he returned 
home. However ungrateful this conduct might be 
considered on the part of Jemima, yet it was no 
less impolitic, as it occasioned a full developement 
of her unfortunate and precipitate flight, under cir- 
cumstances not very honorable to her character 
either as a moralist or a divine. Her followers were 
somewhat staggered in their belief of her divinity, 
and those who understood her true character, taunt- 
ingly reminded them of the proverb " the wicked 



72 HISTORY OF 

flee when no man pursueth," &c. But Jemima wa»' 
very grateful to her old friend Mr. W, for his signal 
services, in sending her off when she was in an a- 
gony for fear of an immediate arrest, and also for 
his promptitude in pursuing to bring her back, 
when it was discovered that no harm was to be ap- 
prehended ; she therefore, as the only reward she 
was able to bestow on him, loaded him with pro- 
mises of prosperity in this world, and happiness in 
that which is to come, and omitted no opportunity 
of holding him i?p to the Society, as an example of 
disinterestedness and fidelity worth} 7 their imita- 
tion. 

The cause of her sudden flight was known to but 
few, and these were enjoined to secrecy, so that after 
awhile the idea became current in the Society, that 
she had been a journey on some important mission 
for the advancement of the general concern, and a- 
bout which, they were given to understand, it did 
not become them to be too inquisitive. In this 
way her people soon became satisfied, and their af- 
fairs and business again resumed their former char- 
acter and complexion. Jemima however retained 
her malevolence againstherformerfriend,by w r hom 
her peace had been so much disturbed, and finding 
that she could not again get her into her clutches, 
and having no other means of punishment for her, 
she now denounced her as a reprobate, against 
whom the doors of mercy were effectually closed, 
and cautioned her followers against falling from 
grace and favor as this wicked woman had done ; 
but she never thought fit to inform them of the 
trick which had been practiced upon them by her* 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 73 

Sarah Richards was now promoted to the digni- 
ty which had been intended for her lost friend, was 
made prime minister to Jemima, and charged with 
the direction of the temporal concerns of the Soci- 
ety, a post which had been held at various times by 
different persons, but which Sarah occupied during 
the residue of her life. Some few of the Society 
who had never evinced much devotion, but who had 
attended her meetings merely for convenience or 
curiosity, now saw through the thin veil in which 
the real character of Jemima was shrouded ; they 
most heartily ridiculed the farce recently acted by 
her and her favorites, and discontinued their atten- 
tion to her altogether. But on this, as on former 
occasions of miscarriage in her projects, her de- 
voted friends ascribed her ill luck to the malice 
and persecution of evil minded persons, who were 
determined to destroy their religion, and break up 
their Society : they therefore redoubled their zeal 
^nd exertions in testifying their unqualified con- 
fidence in Jemima, and devotion to her cause ; so 
that in a little time, she became as firmly seated at 
the head of her flock, at Worcester, as she could 
have been had the circumstances of her late adven- 
ture never transpired. The concerns of the Socie- 
ty were satisfactorily arranged, confidence was res- 
tored, and peace and tranquility returned. 

Those of her Society who had followed her from 
Rhode-Island, were employed in cultivating the 
farms which were appropriated to their use, and in 
the domestic drudgery of her household ; while 
Jemima and three o>' four of the sisterhood, whose 

G 



74 HISTORY OP 

assistance in devising ways and means, was always 
necessary to her, were occupied in contriving 
schemes for the good government of the flock, and 
in arranging matters for their emigration to the 
Lake country. 

In the month of April, 1789, every thing being 
arranged^ the necessary provisions, clothing and 
money being furnished, Jemima took her last and 
long farewell of the town of Worcester, and bent 
her course for the land of promise, accompanied by 
a few of her followers, her trusty cabinet council, 
baggage, he. he. 

In order to induce her followers and friends to 
accompany her into th*e wilderness, she had labour- 
ed for several months with the utmost assiduity, 
frequently mentioning the subject in her public dis- 
courses and evening sittings, and on all occasions 
when matters of business were at all discussed; and 
never failed to paint the scene in the most captiva- 
ting colours. She called it the " New Jerusalem," 
the " land of promise, flowing with milk and ho- 
ney ;" where the faithful would enjoy every grati- 
fication without interruption or molestation ; where 
their hopes would be realised and their fears ban- 
ished ; where they should meet with a reward for 
all their toils, their sufferings and troubles ; where 
ihey should be relieved from the scoffs, the sneers 
and ridicule of the servants of the devil ; where the 
world's people could not come among them, or dis- 
turb their repose; in short, where peace and tranquili- 
ty should reign uninterruptedly, their wants be provi- 
ded for, and their utmost wishes gratified to the end 
*f their lives. These high wrought descriptions^ 



JEMIMA WILKINSON, 11 

together with the information these people had re- 
ceived from other sources, respecting what was then 
called the Genesee country, operated powerfully 
t?pon the minds of man} 7 , and occasioned consider* 
able emigrations from that neighbourhood about 
this period and for some time after, 

Jemima and her retinue travelled by land to 
Wilksbarre, on the Susquehannah river, where they 
chartered a boat, in which they came from thence 
by water to Newtown. (Elmira.) in Tioga county, 
She had agreed to pay the boatman a stipulated 
price, besides the services of two young men, who 
came with her, to assist him in setting his boat a- 
gainst the current, which was of consequence to 
Uim, as he needed a greater number of hands in 
ascending than in descending the river. On their 
arrival at Newtown, Jemima and Sarah Richards 
conspired together to cheat him out of a part of the 
stipulated price, by charging him twenty dollars 
for the services of the two young men, and by re- 
fusing to pay him any thing unless he would allow 
that charge. The boatman, indignant at such an 
unworthy contrivance, threatened to prosecute Je- 
mima and Sarah immediately, unless his account 
was paid in its fullest extent. They thereupon cal- 
led the yeung men into a private room, and inform- 
ed them that the boatman had agreed to allow, for 
their services, twenty dollars out of the price for 
bringing the cargo, and that they expected to prove 
this fact by them. But ihey told Jemima and Sa- 
rah, that they had understood the bargain to be 
precisely as stated by the boatman. This reply 
j&as iustanlly silenced with a severe frown and pos- 



76 HISTORY OF 

rave contradiction from Jemima, and they were or- 
dered to go immediately to Mr. S. (the only ma- 
gistrate then in that part of the country,) who lived 
about a mile and a half distant, and to inform him 
that the boatman was endeavoring to cheat Jemi- 
ma, and to state to him, that if a prosecution was 
brought they would swear, on the trial, that for their 
services a deduction of twenty dollars was to be 
made from the price originally agreed on. This 
injunction of these two profligate women, was en- 
forced in the sternest manner, and with a threat of 
their utmost displeasure should they, in their state- 
ment to the magistrate, fall short one tittle from the 
instructions they had received. 

The parents and friends of these unfortunate 
young men, had belonged to the Society for many 
year?, and they themselves had been educated in 
the faith of Jemima's creed, had been with her and 
in her employment almost from their infancy, had 
been taught to yield implicit obedience to her com- 
mands, and had been sent on with the Friend and 
her retinue, to assist them on the way. They were 
now about eighteen years of age, totally inexperi- 
enced, in a wilderness, far removed from succour, 
and altogether dependant upon Jemima for sup- 
port ; to retain which they were required to per- 
jure themselves, in order that she might succeed in 
the attempt she was now making to defraud the 
honest labourer of his hire. Their reflections were 
therefore not of the most pleasant kind, as they pen- 
sively pursued their way towards the residence of 
the magistrate : and what heightened their per- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 77 

plexity was, that both were determined never to 
perform the task assigned them, or any part of if, 
and each was at the same time ignorant of the oth- 
er's thoughts, and was- afraid to break silence for 
fear his companion should not agree with him, and 
he should therefore be turned adrift, alone and in a 
wilderness. But to quit Jemima together, in case 
of extremity, would be far less distressing than to 
perform what she required of them. Having tra- 
velled some distance, they seated themselves on a log 
by the way side to rest ; after exchanging a few 
significant looks, one of them said to his compan- 
ion, " I had rather go back than to proceed any 
further;" and to his great relief, the other immedi- 
ately reciprocated thesamesentiment, and thereupon 
an explanation took place between them. They 
proceeded, however, and called on the magistrate^ 
who received and entertained them \Qvy hospita- 
bly — gave thern a good dinner, and answered ail 
their enquiries respecting the new country. They 
then returned to their mistress, with a full determi- 
nation to leave her instantly, if she censured thera 
for disobeying her unholy commands. On their 
arrival, Jemima enquired as to the success of their 
mission, and received for answer, that they knew 
very well that the boatman was entitled to his mo- 
ney, that they had not troubled themselves or the 
magistrate on the subject, and that she might settle 
with him as she pleased, but must not call on thera 
as witnesses. Jemima immediately told them to 
say nothing further on the subject, and she would 
pay the rascal and let him go about his business 

c2 



78 HISTORY OF 

which was instantly done, and there the matter 

ended. 

Jemima in a few days after found means to con- 
vey her goods and chatties to the tract of land, 
which was purchased for her about this time, in the 
neighbourhood of the Seneca andCrboked Lakes, 
where she had the pleasure of meeting with a num- 
ber of her disciples and followers from Rhode-Isl- 
and. From this time forward, considerable acces- 
sions to the Society took place, by the emigration 
t*f her friends from New-England and Pennsylva- 
nia, until their numbers were estimated at about a 
hundred souls. 

In looking back through the career of this ex- 
traordinary woman, it is worthy of remark, that 
by her extravagance, her deceptions and frauds, 
flie nearly ruined her best friends and most wealthy 
followers, both in New-England and Pennsylvania. 

The gentleman, in whose house she for a long 
time resided, in North Kingstown, and from whom 
she received the greatest hospitality and kindness, 
found himself so embarrassed, and his affairs so de- 
ranged, after the elopement of Jemima from that 
country, that lie was obliged to sell his plantation, 
to extricate himself from bis debts and difficulties. 
The robbery of the Treasury added much to those 
difficulties, for Jemima had so managed that busi- 
ness, asto implicate a connexion ofhis family in that 
foul transaction, to save whom, and the credit of 
bis friend, lie was obliged to repay the money, with 
the exception of what was found in Jemima's trunk 
at Worcester. This gentleman collected together 
f\K wreck of an ample fortune, and with his family 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. JW 

removed to the county of Ontario, near the Crook- 
ed Lake, soon after she absconded from Rhode-Is!*-" 
and. With Jemima's devoted friend, Mr. W. of 
Worcester, it fared still worse. Hurried on from 
one step to another, without sufficiently reflecting 
upon the consequences which must necessarily en- 
sue, the foundation of his ruin was laid before he 
was at all aware of it. His property was dissipa- 
ted, his business deranged, and himself loaded with 
debts which he could not discharge without sacri- 
ficing his real estate, which consisted of three very 
large and valuable farms, in a high state of culti- 
vation, and capable of yielding a handsome reve- 
nue. After striving for nearly three years to re- 
deem his shattered fortune, he at length sunk under 
the pressure of his embarrassments. He disposed 
of all his property, and wkh the little pittance that 
remained after paying his debts, followed Jemima 
to the "land of promise/" The embarrassments 
into which many others were led, in consequence 
of their connexion with this Society, compelled 
them to dispose of their property, and retire into 
the new country, where lands could be obtained 
cheap, and where by industry and economy, they 
have since obtained very handsome estates. 

Jemima gave that part of the country in which 
they settled, the name of Jerusalem, and lost no 
time in organizing her Societ}' under the old disci- 
pline, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing her 
prospects begin to brighten. From the wreck of 
the two old Societies, and the few additions from 
the early settlers in her neighbourhood, her follow- 
ers became more numerous ; and being far remov- 



80 HISTORY OF 

ed from any means of religious instruction, except- 
ing what her teaching afforded, they were more 
easily governed, than at any former period of her 
ministry. 

They generally purchased lands, and held them 
in their individual rights, each being the separate 
possessor and owner of whatever he brought with 
him, or afterwards acquired. The common-stock 
project was abandoned, and instead thereof, volun- 
tary donations and contributions were substituted, 
and paid in money, labour, cattle, and other per- 
sonal property, according to the ability and incli- 
nation of the members of the Society. 

Sarah Richards had some money of her own, 
which, together with what Jemima had obtained by 
pretences and practices which need not be again 
described, was laid out in the purchase of lands, 
and some donations in land were also made, so that 
the tract selected and purchased for Jemima and 
the sisterhood, amounted to about fourteen hundred 
acres. This tract was extremely well chosen, be- 
ing in a healthful and pleasant situation, the lands 
having generally an eastern and southern aspect, 
finely wooded with the sugar maple, occasionally 
interspersed with the majestic oak and lofty pine, 
and the soil of the first quality for agriculture. As 
it suited the convenience of Jemima to appear to 
have nothing to do with matters of business, and 
to have her attention altogether turned from world- 
ly to spiritual concerns, the deeds for these tracts 
of land were executed to Sarah Richards, who was 
to be considered the trustee of Jemima and the 
sisterhood. 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 81 

Sarah continued the ostensible owner of the pro- 
perty, and had the, general direction of the busi- 
ness of the establishment, which was conducted in 
her name, until her death, which happened in the 
year 1794. At her death she willed the principal 
part of her property to Rachel Malin, a respecta- 
ble young woman who had resided some years m 
the family of Jemima. 

The Members of tlse Society purchased their 
lands in severalty, and located themselves where 
the situation and quality of the soil suited them 
best, without regard to the immediate vicinity of 
their mistress. The lands selected for the accom- 
modation of Jemima were situated on a gentle ac- 
clivity near the head of the west branch of Crook- 
ed Lake, and about twelve miles west of the Sene- 
ca Lake* She remained among her followers 
until a dwelling was erected and sufficient improve- 
ments made to enable her family to support them- 
selves without an immediate reliance upon the mem- 
bers of the Society. Her household now consist- 
ed of Sarah Richards and her daughter Eliza, Ra- 
chel Malin, and four or five male and nine or ten 
female domestics, hi all about eighteen persons.— 
These servants were men, women and girls, who- 
had, in the excess of their devotion, given them- 
selves entirely up to the governance k:id conlroul 
of Jemima, doing all her drudgery both within and 
without, being content to receive for their services 
a mere subsistence in addition to the happiness of 
being near the beloved Friend. 

Besides the assistance she derived from the la- 
bour of these persons in clearing and cultivating 



82 HISTORY OF 

ber farm, she received donations in labour everj 
year to a considerable amount from the other mem- 
bers of the Society. It) fact it was, for many years 
after their settlement in Jerusalem, a standing rule 
among them to turn out and gratuitously plant and 
hoe the Friend's corn, sow and reap her wheat, and 
cut and gather in her hay, even in preference to 
attending to similar concerns for themselves. On 
ihcse occasions they were accustomed to meet on a 
day appointed, bringing with them their provisions 
and teams; and it was often matter of emulation 
amongst them who should be on the ground first in 
the morning, insomuch that it happened not un- 
frequently that even those who had several miles to 
travel, arrived by the time it was light enough to 
commence their labours. The moment their work 
was done, they retired quietly to their respective 
homes, taking care to give Jemima no trouble or 
expense, nor by any means to convey the idea that 
she had received any thing to which she was not 
entitled, or that they had done aught but their du- 
ty. There is not to be found, perhaps, in the an- 
nate of human society, an instance of such strict, 
uniform and persevering fidelity and devotion to 
any leader, as was shown by these people to Je- 
mima. Whatever inconsistencies or absurdities 
they might be guilty of m other respects, in this 
one thing they were uniform and consistent. As 
"to the motives or incentives which induced them to 
the constant acquiescence in, and performance of, 
these duties, it would bfc difficult to determine, and 
is perhaps not material; but it i c a fact, that their 
oonduct in this respect, (if in no other,) correspond- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. ©S 

vd precisely with their professions, so that to be 
thought even tardy in the performance of these 
tasks was considered by themselves as derogatory 
to their character and standing in the Societj\ In 
this manner Jemima's interests were promoted, and 
her wants provided for, according to the plan she 
Jiad originally laid on turning her attention to the 
Genesee country. She derived a great advantage 
also from another circumstance, which was proba- 
bly a strong inducement to her to attempt remov- 
ing her family and Society into the wilderness. It 
turned out as she had correctly anticipated, that 
the early settlers in many parts of that country were 
for a long time deprived of the ordinary means of 
religious instruction, or of educating their children; 
she therefore had time effectually to confirm her 
followers in the belief of those tenets which she had 
taught them ; whereby she w 7 as enabled to govern 
them with uncontrolled sway, and to draw from 
them the means of an easy and comfortable sup- 
port, during the residue of her life. 

Shortly after settling in Jerusalem, Jemima con- 
ceived the idea of converting the Indians to the 
faith of her divinity, and on several occasions made 
advances towards them for that purpose. Had she 
possessed or pursued any rational system of reli- 
gious and moral instruction, her attempts to civilize 
and christianize them would have been praise-wor- 
thy, and success in her labors would have benefit- 
ed this unfortunate race of human beings. But 
considering the nature of the faith in which she 
would have instructed them, it may be considered 



*4 HISTORY OF 

problematical whether they would have gained 
much by her teaching. 

When the treaty was held with the Indians at 
Canandaigua, she repaired thither, and while the 
Commissioners and their assistants were engaged 
with the Sachems and Warriors in deep consulta- 
tion, she. suddenly entered the Council Hall, and 
without any previous notice or introduction, com- 
menced praying most vehemently. The abrupt 
entrance of Jemima., and the temporary suspension 
of business, gave great umbrage to the Indians, 
who testified their impatience and dissatisfaction, 
by sneers, frowns and grimaces. The Sachems 
and head men of the tribes, were not accustomed 
to interruption in their deliberations, particularly 
from women. Those of minor consideration, who 
took no part in the negociations, together with the 
squaws and pappooses, were busily examining and 
admiring blankets, knives, beads, jewels and other 
•trinkets,- brought here as presents for them, and a- 
bout which they cared much more than for Jemi- 
ma's prayers. Her presence was therefore ex- 
ceedingly offensive to them all. Having ended her 
long prayer, or rather harangue, she attentively 
surveyed her auditors, in order to discover what ef- 
fect it had produced upon* them ; but her mortifi- 
cation was equal to her disappointment, on finding 
that the moment she ceased speaking, the assembly 
resumed their business without taking the least no- 
tice of her or her company. She therefore left them 
immediately, and returned to her much beloved 
and far more deluded followers in Jerusalem, pon- 
dering deeply upon the ungracious reception she 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 85 

bad met with, and vainly endeavoring to divine the 
causes of that obstinacy which she had discovered 
among the poor Indians. To gain their attention 
and confidence had been with her a favorite object 
since her arrival in the country, and she had ac- 
cordingly embraced the first opportunity. Her iil 
success in this enterprize, did not, however, discour- 
age her from making a further effort. These peo- 
ple were mostly ignorant of the principles of the 
christian religion — were fond of novelty, and by 
perseverance she might gain their confidence, and 
in process of time inveigle them into a grant of 
some of their valuable lands. She would moreover 
gain great celebrity by converting the savages, and 
in that way, add considerably to her renown as a 
prophet. For these or some other reasons, per- 
haps equally cogent, she determined on embracing 
the next opportunity for a similar attempt. 

The treaty which was held with the Indians at 
Newtown, was attended by a deputation from the 
Oneidas, a considerable party of whom travelled 
by water, and in passing up the Seneca Lake, they 
encamped and spent the Sabbath at a place called 
Norris' Landing, in the immediate neighbourhood 
of a part of Jemima's settlement. She seized this 
opportunity of preaching to them, and in the course 
of her address, attempted to persuade them that she 
was Jesus Christ, their Saviour. The audience 
listened to the speaker apparently with great at- 
tention. When she had finished her discourse, one 
of their party rose and delivered a short and ani- 
mated address to his countrymen, in their own 

H 



86 HISTORY OF 

language. Jemima having seated herself besMe 
the Interpreter, who accompanied the Indians, de- 
sired him to explain to her the language of the 
speaker. When the Indian had ended his discourse, 
he enquired of the Interpreter what the conversa- 
tion had been between him and his white sister, and 
on being informed that she had requested an in- 
terpretation of his words, he fixed his eye sternly 
upon her, and pointing his finger, said in broken 
English, " Me think you are no Jesus Christ if 
you don't know what poor Indian say — he know 
what Indian say as well as any thing," and imme- 
diately turned contemptuously away from her, and 
neither he nor any of his party took any further no- 
tice of her. 

Whatever ideas these people might have enter- 
tained on the subject of religion, they had too much 
sagacity to believe in a Saviour who could not un- 
derstand their language. This occurrence has been 
minutely detailed here, because the substance of it 
has been related with many variations; and the de- 
tection of Jemima's imposture by the cunning of 
an, Indian, who addressed her in his own dialect, has 
been erroneously ascribed to the celebrated Indian 
chief Red Jacket. 

As the settlement and cultivation of a new coun- 
try increases the value of wild lands, those who 
possessed prudence and forecast readily perceived 
the advantages which would result from securing 
to themselves as extensive tracts as their means 
would enable them. This subject was understood 
by no one better than by Jemima, nor was any 
one more eager to profit b} 7 the early acquirement 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 87 

of freehold estates. But as her funds were nearly 
exhausted, and the contributions hereafter to be 
expected from her followers were to be paid in 
labour and specific articles, it was extremely diffi- 
cult for her to raise money for making new purcha- 
ses. A variety of expedients were therefore resort- 
ed to, with the view of adding to her domains, in 
which she met with little success. It happened, 
however, that in one or two instances, considerable 
bequests in landed property were made to her by 
her followers, to whom she had access during their 
last illness, but from the want of legal skill in those 
who drew the wills, and their reluctance to call in 
the assistance of professional men, these grants were 
iiioperaiixfi* amLtlie lands afterwards descended to 
the heirs at law of the testators. In one instance, 
an extensive and valuable tract of land was willed 
to the "Universal Friend's Society:" but as this So- 
ciety, not being a body corporate or politic, was in- 
capable of receiving a grant, the heirs of the do- 
nor, some years after his decease, went into pos- 
session of the premises, and Jemima, on consulting 
her Counsel, and finding she had no title to the 
property, either at law or inequity, abandoned her 
claim to one of the best speculations of her whale 
life. 

Sarah Richards possessed some lands which she 
had purchased, and held as private property, inde- 
pendently of, and unconnected with, the estates 
which she held in trust for Jemima, the latter of 
which she devised by her will, to Rachel Malin,and 
the former to her daughter Eliza. Some time after 
!iie death of Sarah, Eliza Richards becoming dh~ 



83 HISTORY OF 

g.usLed with the monotonous and slavish service of 
her mistress, sought refuge from the tyranny of 
Jemima, ia the arms of a husband — which so exas- 
perated the eld lady, that, notwithstanding her 
former obligations to Sarah Richards, and the fond- 
ness and friendship which she had professed for 
Eliza, she became from that moment her irrecon- 
cilable and deadly enemy. After interdicting mat- 
rimony among her followers, she had always con- 
sidered the marriage of any of her disciples as an 
act of separation from the Society, and as a fall 
from grace, and denounced them as heretics accord- 
ingly. Bat in this instance, it was not the mere 
violation of one of the fundamental articles of hei- 
strange creed which excited her enmity ; she had 
placed her avaricious eye upon the property of this 
unhappy orphan, and fondly hoped to retain her 
under her charge SH5*w she arrived at an age which 
would enable her to convey her lands, when she ■ in- 
tended, by threats or (lattery, to induce Eliza to 
add her inheritance to the fortune of the " Univer- 
sal Friend." But the marriage of this person ef- 
fectually frustrated her schemes, and placed the 
property forever beyond her reach, unless she could 
invent some new fraud whereby she might obtain 
possession of it. 

The Will of Sarah Richards was still in her 
possession, and an attempt was made so to alter it, 
as to divert the devise from Eliza to another per- 
son. A controversy afterwards arose in relation to 
some of the property mentioned in the Will, which 
rendered its production at the trial necessary, when 
the alteration was detected, which would have defe- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 89 

*royed its validity, had not that alteration been ad- 
judged to be in itself immaterial. Thus the igno- 
rance of those who undertook this forgery saved 
Jemima from the loss of what was really intended 
to be given her. 

Although she preten ded to devote herself entire- 
ly to spiritual concerns, and to be altogether ab- 
stracted from the business of this world, yet her ap- 
petite for gain was probably as sharp as that of 
any other person. Indeed, such was her avarice, 
and so irregular was the manner in which her secu- 
lar concerns were conducted, that she became in- 
volved in a variety of legal controversies, and the 
last sixteen years of her life were spent in a contin- 
ued series of litigation. The suits, it is true, were 
neither prosecuted nor defended in her name, yet 
it is not to be supposed for a moment that she was 
not the real party litigant, or that it was not her in- 
terests exclusively which were to be injured or pro- 
moted by the result. It would perhaps be unrea- 
sonable to suppose her always in the wrong, or 
that chicanery was not sometimes resorted to by 
her opponents, in these contests for property. But 
the cunning and management of this crafty woman, 
and the blind devotion of her disciples, were such 
that had she understood the legal effect of instru- 
ments in writing, the forms of law, and what was 
necessary to be proved, as well as she did the gov- 
ernment of her flo<:k, she must have been a most 
potent adversary to contend 'with. Indeed, it has 
been often remarked in her vicinity, that whenever 
she could anticipate what was necessary to be sub- 



90 HISTORY OF 

stantiaied on an approaching trial, she was sure to 
furnish the means, from among her followers, to 
prove it. The propriety and force of this remark 
will be at once appreciated by all those who have 
attended their trials for a series of years, and seen 
the gross perjuries which have been committed by 
interested and suborned witnesses. Oaths, it is 
said, have become, in latter years, much cheapen- 
ed, and from the great multiplicity of cases where- 
in they have been rendered necessary by law, their 
sanctity has probably been much impaired. But 
with some of the followers of Jemima, it appeared 
to have been a matter of course, to affirm (swear- 
ing being prohibited by their religion) according 
to the directions which she gave them. It happen- 
ed not unfrequently, that she w r ould summon before 
her those whom she intended to employ as witnes- 
ses en an approaching trial, and detail to them, 
with the utmost minuteness, the facts and circum- 
stances to which they must affirm ; and, in order that 
they might be able to remember, and attest distinct- 
ly to all she had instructed them to say, she would 
compel them to repeat their lesson to her, until they 
could do it with sufficient exactness and fluency to 
answer her purpose. Moreover, to strengthen them 
in the belief, that it was their duty to testify as she 
had bidden them, she would state to them, that they 
must know that the facts were as the Friend had 
told them, that they had " the word of the 
Lord for the truth of them," and that they need 
not be afraid of men, who would not hurt them for 
testifying as she directed them, that "man could, at 1 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 91 

most, only kill the body, but the Lord could kill 
the soul." 

The effects of this cabinet discipline has been 
often seen on the trial of causes in which the 
" Friend, 5 ' or some favourite follower, was interes- 
ted. On one of these occasions, a young woman r 
belonging to the Society, was produced as a wit- 
ness, who affirmed to the existence of certain facts 
which, if true, would entitle the defendant, who was 
also a follower, to a verdict. To rebut this evi- 
dence, a sister of hers, who did not belong to the 
Society, was sworn, whose testimony was in direct 
contradiction ta that of the other, and was so 
strongly corroborated by that of other w r itnes$e% 
arid a variety of circumstances, as to satisfy the 
audience of the truth of her statement. Yet such 
was the hardihood and determined purpose of the 
defendant, and such the preparation which had been 
made to meet all emergencies, that he introduced 
the mother of the two witnesses to prove that the 
one who had testified against the interests of the 
defendant was so great a liar that no reliance 
could be placed upon any thing she might say.— 
This graceless task the unblushing and unfeeling 
mother performed with apparent satisfaction, and 
with such eagerness to blast the character of her 
daughter, as to destroy, in a great measure, the ef- 
fect she intended to produce, and to disclose most 
clearly the foul means which had been resorted to 
for the purpose of enabling the defendant to escape 
justice. This must undoubtedly have been the o- 
pinion of the Jury, as they, without difficulty, re- 
tamed a verdict for the plaintiff. 



02 HISTORY OF 

On another occasion one of the faithful was 
drawn as a Juror in a very important cause, de- 
pending against one of the brethren, on a promis- 
sory note given by him for a debt of Jemima's. — 
This man was apparently near sixty years of age 5 
and one of the most venerable and holy looking 
men in the Society. His grisly beard, his hard 
and weather beaten countenance, his broad drab 
coat, with huge gaping pockets dangling against 
his thighs, and long slouch under jacket, approach- 
ing his knees, seemed to look down from their 
proud eminence upon the wicked worldly fash- 
ions with which they were surrounded $ and togeth- 
er with his Sanctimonious longitude of iace, were 
sufficient to convince a stranger that he had not 
committed a solitary sin in more than half a centu- 
ry. On answering to his name, he was objected 
to by the counsel for the plaintiff, on the ground of 
his having declared his opinion that " the note up- 
on which the suit was brought was a forgery," — 
that " the defendant was not indebted to the plain- 
tiff," and that " the plaintiff ought not to recover a 
verdict against him." Old Primitive was then put 
upon his affirmation, and interrogated by the 
"Chief Justice as to his having made such declara- 
tions, or any others of a similar import, to all of 
which, he promptly answered in the negative, with 
a steady and firm voice, with unvarying features, 
and rigidity of countenance which resembled the 
face of a brazen image. The Juror having thus 
purged himself of all biass and prepossession touch- 
ing the matter to be tried, the Judge overruled the 
objection, and the'plaintiff thereupon submitted toa 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 93 

nan-suit, rather than proceed in the trial with a $an 
on the jury who was predetermined never to &gree 
to a verdict against the defendant ; and the next 
day the Grand Jury (then in session) presented a 
bill of indictment against old Primitive, for perju- 
ry, committed by him in answering to those inter- 
rogatories, which Indictment was found upon the 
oaths of three gentlemen of respectability for vera- 
city, who heard him make ail those declarations not 
two hours before he was called upon and denied 
them under the sanction of his affirmation. On 
the trial of this indictment, the miserable old man 
made a technical escape from justice, being acquit- 
ted in consequence of the non-production of a 
record of the cause, pending the trial of which the 
perjury had been committed. 

To detail all the various litigations and contro- 
versies in which Jemima was embroiled for many 
years, some of which remained unsettled at the 
time of her death, would be a tedious and almost 
endless task. Enough has already been stated to 
show that notwithstanding all her pretentions to ab- 
straction from worldly cares and considerations, 
she possessed an almost insatiable thirst for wealth, 
without much regard to the means by which it was 
to be acquired. 

It was the custom of Jemima, in the early part 
of her career, to preach to- her flock twice in each 
week, besides attending on funerals and other ex- 
traordinary occasions. Her stated days for hold- 
ing meetings were Saturdays and Sundays, the 
latter of which was considered more particularly as 
sacred time, and strictly observed a^s such;., but Sa-. 



94 HISTORY OF 

turday was treated as a day of relaxation from bu- 
siness, to attend meetings, hear lectures and moral 
discourses the better to prepare their minds for the 
more solemn devotions of the Sabbath ; but they 
were not required to abstain altogether from secular 
concerns. On her settlement in this country, how- 
ever, she pretended to discover that the seventh day 
of the week, or " what the world calls Saturday," 
was the real Sabbath, and that part of time which 
ought to be kept holy and occupied exclusively in 
exercises of piety and devotion. This she said was 
revealed to her immediately from Heaven, in a vis- 
ion ; the strictest observance of this new item in 
her creed was therefore required ; yet she still held 
public meetings on the Sabbath, •* in compliance 
with the customs of the world." She also institu- 
ted u evening sittings," -as they were called. These 
were held every evening in the week, or as often as 
the members chose to assemble at her house. On 
these occasions liberty was given for any one to 
speak who felt disposed ; but it rarely ever hap- 
pened that any of her tribe would venture to preach 
in her presence^ so that generally their "evening 
sittings" broke up without a word being said by 
any one of them. These were called " mute meet- 
ings," and were, without doubt, extremely edify* 
ing, for by persevering in an uninterrupted silence 
for an hour together, an excellent opportunity was 
afforded for reflection and contemplation, while 
they were in no danger of being led astray by the 
mistakes of their teacher. 

Having succeeded in establishing a Society, res- 
pectable in point of numbers, who were devoted i* 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 95 

her interests, and unconditionally submissive to her 
authority, and having acquired a considerable 
landed estate, which was daily becoming more val- 
uable by cultivation, and by the rapid settlement 
of the country, Jemima now found herself in an el- 
igible situation, and would doubtlesshave wished to 
remain on earth, to enjoy the fruits of her fatigues 
and hazards, for a thousand years. The produce 
of her farm, together with the constant donations 
from her supporters, enabled her to live in perfect 
ease and plenty. Her house was constantly supplied 
with all the necessaries and some of the luxuries of 
life. She had many visitants, among whom were 
sometimes strangers of distinction, who having heard 
of her fame from afar, called to gratify their curiosi- 
ty, or to become acquainted with a person who had 
been the subject of much speculation and enquiry. 
These she never failed to entertain with the great- ' 
est hospitality, and always strove to impress them 
with favorable opinions of herself as a divine, and 
her attentions and exertions on such occasions were 
generally graduated according to the rank which 
she supposed her guests held in Society. The ex- 
penses to which her establishment w r as thereby sub- 
jected, were provided for by her followers in 
due proportions, according to their means, with- 
out a murmur, as they considered it an honor 
done the Society to have the Friend visited by 
people of rank and standing m the world. 

Jemima continued to preach to her followers re- 
gularly until a short time before her death, holding 
meetings statedly at her own house, and occasion- 
ally travelling into different parts of the seulemer<i 



96 HISTORY OF 

to accommodate those who lived at a distance. In 
these excursions she usually rode in her carriage, 
attended by some favourite of her little community. 
In the latter years of her life she remained much 
at home, and sometimes secluded herself altogether 
from company, excepting her confidants and select 
visitors. She grew fleshy and corpulent, and at 
length became affected with the dropsy. Her na- 
tural love of ease, together with the fatigue of tra- 
velling, occasioned her to lay aside her usual excur- 
sions among the faithful, and her bodily exercises, 
which had never been great, were nearly discon- 
tinued. Her malady increased apace, and for 
more than two years previous to her death she en- 
dured much pain and distress. To consult a Phy- 
sician was beneath the dignity, and inconsistent 
with the character, which she had assumed, and at 
her advanced age but little hope could be enter- 
tained of arresting the progress of a disease of so 
formidable a character. She resigned herself to 
the fate which she considered inevitable, and patient- 
ly waited the event ; being probably more anx- 
ious to perpetuate a belief in her divinity than to 
protract a lingering and miserable existence. The 
pleasures of jouth and the enjoyments of riper 
years had [led forever ; and the evening of her 
days had not brought with it those consolations 
which a christian enjoys in a retrospective survey 
of a long life, devoted to the care and instruction 
of his children, the exercises of charity and benev- 
olence, and to the acknowledgment and service of 
his Redeemer. But she bore the pains of her dis- 
ease with surprising fortitude, and made it a point 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 97 

never to complain, or show the least impatience (in 
the presence of visitors) on account of what she 
suffered. Her whole system had now become af- 
fected, and every sj'mptom strongly indicated an 
approaching and speedy dissolution. Yet such 
was the delusion of her infatuated followers, that 
they would have been more easily persuaded that 
the final consummation of all things was at hand 
than that the life of their Idol was drawing to a 
^lose. To the usual enquiry " How does the 
Friend ?" they gave the foolish answer, " The 
Friend is wetter" for as Jemima was, in their opin- 
ion, as good a being as they had any knowledge of. 
it would be profanation in them to say she was 
better. They admitted that the " tabernacle which 
the Friend inhabited" was deranged and disordered, 
but denied that she was sick or would die, and ex- 
hibited evident sj'mptoms of impatience and vexa- 
tion whenever the probability of such an event was 
mentioned to them. With Jemima, however, the 
case was far different. She knew full well the 
course of human nature, and that like all mankind 
she must die, and her body moulder in the grave, 
the house appointed for all living. She was aware 
that her whole system was pervaded with disease, 
and that deaths' approach, though slow, was yet 
regular and certain, and had already seized the vi- 
tal parts. The day preceding her death, she sta- 
ted to those about her, that she must soon leave 
them. Towards evening, finding herself fast fail- 
ing, she again said, " My friends, I must soon de- 
part—I am going — this night I leave ye." She 

i 



03 HISTORY OF 

died about 2 o'clock in the morning of Thursday, 
the first day of July, 1819. 

A few of the more intelligent part of her flock 
had expected that her disease would terminate her 
earthly career, and were prepared for the event. — 
They therefore admitted and lamented the " de- 
parture of the Friend." But the major part of them 
could not, and did not believe she was dead, or that 
she ;i had departed," until compelled by the reali- 
ty ; nay such was the enthusiastic devotion of some 
of the faithful, that when they were informed that 
Jemima was dead, they denied the fact most stoutly, 
and disdainfully repelled the idea as an insult of- 
fered to their understandings, and to the deity the}' 
worshipped, and said the Friend would " live to see 
all the wicked cut off from the earth.*" So great 
was their zeal and faith in her cause, that they 
started immediately to go and visit the " beloved," 
and inform her of the injustice done her by these 
evil reports which the wicked had raised against 
her. But on their arrival, and meeting the awful 
reality in such a manner as to preclude the possi- 
bility of evasion without denying the evidence of 
their own senses, they were utterly confounded, and 
the vacant stare and mute astonishment depicted in 
their countenances, betrayed their perplexity, their 
doubts and their fears. And when their powers of 
speech returned, they lamented, in doleful accents, 
their unprotected condition, said they were like 
<heep without a shepherd, and knew not what to 
do— that they had entertained no apprehensions 
that the " beloved" was about to leave them, or 
that the Friend intended to depart and withdraw 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 99 

her protection from them. Bat to allay the fears 
and remove the doubts of these miserable devotees 
was no very difficult task, and the means of produ- 
cing this effect were already prepared. As a part 
of her creed, Jemima had taught her disciples to 
believe that she was something more than 
a mere human being, and in order to secure 
their respect and adoration of her memory after 
her death, it was necessary to perpetuate that sys- 
tem of faith and practice in which they had been 
educated ; and two or three of the most crafty 
members of this holy sisterhood were interested in 
lending their assistance to accomplish this desira- 
ble object; hence it is not improbable that the ex- 
planation relative to her " departure" was previ- 
ously prepared to suit the present occasion. These 
worthies accordingly received their wondering 
fellow followers with as good a grace as possible, 
and informed them that the Friend hi ad suddenly 
and unexpectedly left them, that they were exceed- 
ingly sorrowful thereat, but that it was .their duty 
to be resigned to the will of the Lord, " for the 
beloved Friend knew what was best for them, that 
she had a right to depart, and that they must not re- 
pine." And moreover that " the beloved had not 
in fact left them, her spirit had only left the taber- 
nacle of clay which it had inhabited, and was still 
with them, and ministering unto their spiritual 
wants and necessities, and would secure their final 
and eternal happiness, provided they should obey 
her precepts and continue firm in the faith unto the 
end." This most comfortable explanation an- 
swered the end for which it was designed. They 



100 HISTORY OF 

were exceedingly rejoiced on learning that their 
11 dearly beloved friend was not a mere mortal 
woman, as had been vainly imagined by a wicked 
world," their fears and doubts were immediately 
removed, their faith renewed, and they again set- 
tled down into their former stupidit} 7 , determined to 
persevere unto the end, and await in sullen silencQ 
the salvation which Jemima had promised them. 

Jemima had given orders that her body should 
be kept as long as possible, four days at the least, 
before they " laid her away," for as to burying her, 
that idea was altogether inadmissible. The body 
was placed in a coffin, in the lid of which was in- 
serted a pane of glass, so that the face could be 
seen without opening the coffin. The members of 
the Society were allowed access to the room, where 
she was lying in state, for the purpose of taking a 
last and lingering look at the " Friend's face," un- 
til Friday evening, when the corpse became so ex- 
tremely offensive that they were obliged to remove 
it into the cellar, after which none but the Cabinet 
Council were permitted to approach it. On Satur- 
day a considerable number of people assembled at 
her late residence, in the expectation of seeing the 
corpse, and of joining in the funeral solemnities ; 
but in this they were disappointed ; the religious 
exercises were performed and the assembly dismis- 
sed as usual, without any allusion to the death of 
Jemima, her funeral or interment ; and those whose 
minds had been occupied on these subjects, retired 
as wise as they came. On Sunday the followers 
again assembled, and, as an expectation generally 
prevailed throughout the neighbourhood that the 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 101 

last sad duties of the living to the dead, would now 
be performed, a great concourse of people atten- 
ded. Among them were several persons of the 
Quaker denomination, some of whom, being mov- 
ed by sympathy and benevolence, had travelled a 
considerable distance to visit this Society in their 
present affliction. But these people needed not 
their condolence or their company ; they consider- 
ed them as spies, or drawn together from idle curi- 
osity, and exhibited strong symptoms of vexation 
and jealousy at the attendance of so many strangers, 
and plainly intimated that they would much rather 
have been left to " manage their own affairs in their 
own way." The Quakers were particularly ob- 
noxious to them, and were treated with much rude- 
ness. 

Jemima had been repulsed in all her advances 
towards them, in the early part of her career, and 
having succeeded informing a sect of her own, and 
fearing that an acquaintance and intercourse with 
them would, from the similarity of some of their 
maimers and customs, tend to incorporate her pen- 
pie with the Society of Friends, and thus sap the 
foundations of her independent government, she 
had taught her disciples to look upon them with 
contempt and abhorrence. On the present occa- 
sion this temper was particularly manifested ; they 
refused to hold any communion with them, and 
those who wished to see and speak with the friends 
of the deceased were put off with feigned excuses 
andfrivolous pretences. All the rooms in the house 
except the " public meeting room," were locked^ 
i 2 " 



102 HISTORY OF 

and every thing visible wore the aspect of gloom 
and mystery. Some of the visitors enquired the 
cause of such treatment to strangers, to which they 
replied " we have obeyed orders" — " we have or- 
ders for all we do." As this was one of their sta- 
ted days for worship the rules of the Society could 
not be dispensed with. The person who preached 
on this occasion was one of the most garrulous 
sisters of the whole tribe, and she, with the view, 
no doubt, of wearing out the patience of the audi- 
ence, continued speaking as long as she could find 
any thing to say, nor did she then give up the 
point, until by repeating her vagrant ideas and 
cant phrases many times over, she was driven to 
silence by fatigue and exhaustion. 

When the usual exercises were ended a desire 
was expressed by some of the audience to hear 
one of the Quakers preach, and as no accommoda- 
tion was allowed them in the house, they assembled 
under some shade trees hard by, when the speaker 
rose and delivered an eloquent and affectionate ad- 
dress, and concluded with a fervent prayer. The 
assembly were much pleased with the discourse and 
prayer of this stranger, and expressed their satis- 
faction to each other, saying " surely these ars. 
the words of truth and soberness." These indica- 
tions of approbation disturbed the composure and 
excited the jealousy of the leaders of the Society, 
and one of them rose and inveighed most bitterly 
against the Quakers, and among other things said 
she had foreseen in a vision the coming of these 
strange people, that they had been sent by the devil 
to bring discord and confusion among the faithful, 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 103 

and that she was sure they would be cursed in the 
next world, and she hoped she should live to see 
them cursed in this. 

One of the Quakers requested permission to see 
the corpse, and on being refused, observed " it is 
of no great importance, she was nothing more than 
mere flesh and blood like the rest of us, and is now 
a mass of inanimate clay, as we all soon must be." 
The followers of Jemima were greatly disturbed 
and enraged at this remark, and said to one anoth- 
er, " is it possible ?" " can it be ?" " abominable !" 
"we did not think it possible ! !" " but now we 
hear it, with our own ears we hear it said, that the 
1 Universal Friend' was nothing more than mere 
flesh and blood like common persons ! ! !" These 
and many other exclamations were made by them, 
showing most clearly, that they considered it blasphe- 
my to speak thus of their Idol. The concourse of 
strangers who attended on Saturday and Sunday 
was not only a great annoyance to the Society, 
but very probably prevented the working of any 
miracles which they might have had prepared for 
the occasion, and they therefore separated mutually 
dissatisfied and disgusted. 

After the assembly had dispersed, the principal 
managers of this farce consoled their adherents 
with the idea that they were the favoured disciples of 
the Lord, that they were numbered with the faith- 
ful, and that if they continued steadfast through all 
their trials and sufferings, they should receive a 
crown of glory from their " beloved," who, they 
said, was not dead, but had only departed for a 
season, and would in her own due time vouchsafe 



104 HISTORY OF 

a most glorious manifestation of herself unto them, 
and give them a final and triumphant victory over 
all their enemies. 

The circumstances which transpired among this 
infatuated people during the four days next follow- 
ing the death of Jemima, although apparently of 
little moment in themselves, have been stated with 
some minuteness, because this is an important 
epoch in the history of their Society, and because 
those circumstances are of a piece with that system 
of mock mystery and imposture upon which that 
Society was founded and kept together, and upon 
which the successors of Jemima (for there are a 
plurality of them) rely for maintaining their author- 
ity and influence over the deluded members. If 
they could succeed in reconciling the followers to 
the idea of her departure, as they call it, and con- 
vince them that she had not died, but that she had 
only removed herself from their presence, yet that 
her spirit is still with them dispensing her ministra- 
tions to their wants and necessities, and like a guar- 
dian angel constantly engaged in the care of their 
souls, with the power and intention of finally se- 
curing their eternal happiness ; if they could suc- 
ceed in stupifying the members of this Society into 
a belief of these things, then they might calculate 
upon enjoying, for a season at least, their authori- 
ty over them, and upon receiving from them that 
homage and devotion which had formerly been 
paid to Jemima. And upon this hypothesis on- 
ly, can we account for the strange conduct of 
the leaders of this sect at the time of the de- 
cease of their mistress. No death — no mortali- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 105 

ty — no funeral — no burying — nothing that should 
in itself indicate an acknowledgement on their part 
that she was not a divine person, or that her body 
was mortal, and had suffered the stroke of death. 
On the contrary " the beloved Friend has depart- 
ed" — " the Universal Friend hath left us" — " the 
shepherd hath left the flock" — " the body hath 
gone to a place prepared to receive it." A gloomy 
and inveterate silence prevails, except when ques- 
tions are asked, and these are answered with tart- 
ness accompanied with an intimation that they are 
considered impertinent and offensive. This farce 
is kept up until the night ot the fourth day after 
the death of Jemima, and then the body is missing, 
and the place where they have interred, or rather 
hidden it, is known only to those who are intrusted 
with this cabinet secret, which they are not permit- 
ted to disclose. Whether the principal managers 
in this mystery gave assurances to their people that 
Jemima would rise on the fourth day, or whether 
they induced them afterwards to believe that she 
had then risen, we are not positively informed ; 
but certain it is, that many of the followers did 
most firmly believe that she would rise at that time, 
and ever since have been, or pretended to be, cer- 
tain that she did rise accordingly, and the secret 
manner in which the body was disposed of was 
well calculated, and was undoubtedly intended, to 
establish and perpetuate such a belief. 

Jemima was always extremely fond of dress ; 
when young she used frequently to say she would 
not go to church or meeting unless she could ap- 
pear as well or better dressed than any other girl in 



106 HISTORY OF 

the congregation. On turning her attention to 
serious matters, she was less anxious, but far from 
being indifferent about her apparel. After pre- 
tending to die and rise from the dead, she changed 
her fancy in this respect, and instead of following 
the fashions which had before been her pride and 
glory, she adopted a sacerdotal habit, more suited 
to the dignity and nature of her employment, yet as 
to the richness of her clothes her pride was in noth- 
ing abated. The finest linen and silks'and super- 
royal broad cloths were not too good for her, and 
were never dispensed with but through necessity. 
Thus apparelled she could unblushingly preach 
patience and humility, frugality and industry, and 
condemn pride as a foul sin to her gazing throng, 
who with coarse raiment and homely fare, were 
yet content, with the sweat of their brow, to minis- 
ter to her vanity and extravagance. A part of her 
pride consisted in dressing after a fashion entirely 
her own, which resembled neither that of men or 
women. She wore an under garment with long 
sleeves, wristbands and collar, and a large cravat 
about her neck — petticoat and slippers ; a vest 
cut sloping to the right and left from the centre, a 
kind of coatee dress similar to a lady's riding 
habit, the upper part buttoned, and cut sloping be- 
low, so as to show the edges of her vest, and ovc»' 
the whole a long robe of black silk or white sattin ; 
and in public she always appeared with a huge 
black beaver turned down at the sides and tied 
under her chin with a ribbon. She wore no head 
dress, having her fine black hair combed and dres- 
sed in several sets of curls and ringlets, which by 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 10? 

frequent welting and ; oiling were kept as smooth and 
glossy as a raven's wing, so that with a line com- 
plexion, a regular set of features, masculine counte- 
nance, a commanding air, and a liberal stock of 
assurance, she had the appearance of a personage 
of no ordinary ."character. These advantages togeth- 
er with her portly mein, her austerity towards her'peo- 
ple, and the belief on their part that she knew their 
private thoughts, rendered them as obsequious and 
submissive as spaniels, and enabled her not only to 
exercise her authority in many instances with great 
severity, but to practice impositions upon their un- 
derstandings, with a success altogether unaccount- 
able. She not only kept them at an awful distance 
at her own house, but even when she travelled a- 
mong them to* visit or preach, she always had a- 
partiuents assigned her where she tarried, into 
which no one, not even the proprietor of the house 
dared to enter without her permission. 

The condition of most of Jemima's followers, as 
members of the intellectual community, has always 
been most wretched. With the exception of a few 
who received a competent education before they 
joined the Society, they are extremely ignorant, a 
trifle of learning, hardly enough to enable them to 
transact the ordinary concerns of life, being deem- 
ed not only sufficient, but as much as was safe for 
them to aspire after. Her teaching was to them 
the most profitable, and did they but believe and 
obey her precepts all would be well with them. 

Her followers in New-England amounted, at 
one time, to about two hundred, a part only of 
whom followed her to this country ; since which 



108 HISTORY OF 

they have never been computed to exceed one hun- 
dred and fifty. Of these a great many have aban- 
doned the Society, and some have died, while of 
late years they have received no additions ; their 
numbers have of course been decreasing very fast, 
and at the time of the death of Jemima there remain- 
ed only about forty who still adhered to the faith, 
all of whom are considerably advanced in years. 
This Society will therefore probably pass away 
with the generation that gave it birth. 

There are about a dozen old men and women 
belonging to the household, all of whom are single. 
They attached themselves to Jemima in theiryouth, 
and such was their infatuation, that they gave them- 
selves away (as they expressed it) to the Friend, 
relinquishing every other prospect and enjoyment 
for her service, yielding themselves up soul and 
body, and making themselves bond men and bond 
women, to wait upon her, and do the slavery of her 
kitchen and the drudgery of her farm, without the 
hope or expectation of any other reward than a 
transient smile of their " dearly beloved," and the 
scanty support she allowed them, together with 
such provision for them in the next world as she 
thought they deserved. These domestics stood in 
great fear of Jemima, and when she was at hand 
were always orderly and submissive. But when 
she was absent they often quarrelled, and sometimes 
pulled caps most lustity. They are now worn 
down with age and hard service, and some of them 
are almost helpless. Their support during their 
lives is provided for in Jemima's Will. 

Among these domestics, there was formerly a 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. K* 

woman of the name of Anna Styer, who sometime 
after joining the Society became partially derang- 
ed. Finding her troublesome and of very little 
service to her, Jemima shifted her off upon one of 
her followers, and enjoined it on him to provide for 
and take care of her, for " the Friend did not want 
to be troubled with her." As this man was to re- 
ceive no other compensation for his trouble and ex- 
pense in the care and support of his ward, than 
what he could derive fromherlabour, he attempted 
to reduce ber to the condition of the most abject 
slave. Having been taught obedience to Jemima 
alone, and not understanding, or beingunwiiling to 
acknowledge the transfer of authority from her old 
mistress to her new master, she became still more 
troublesome and refractory, for which he frequently 
corrected Iver with great severity. This increased 
her obstinacy and probably her malady, and her 
kind guardian thinking that she would never be 
i>f any service to him until "the devil was whipt 
out of her," gave her one morning a most cruel 
and merciless beating. This poor miserable ob- 
ject immediately fled. Her mind was disordered by 
the strange fantasies which she had heard promul- 
gated Ui the school of Jemima, and finding herself 
cast out from the presence of her " dearly beloved 
mistress," from whom, at the time of consecrating °* 
herself to her service, she expected never to be sep- 
arated, and now writhing undertime tortures of the 
lash of the inhuman master, to w r hose Under care 
she had been consigned, despair seized the remains 
of her shattered intellect, and she hastened to a se- 

K 



110 HISTORY OF 

questered spot in a narrow valley hard by, which 
wns deeply shaded by the interlocking branches of 
the peaceful and silent grove, and there put an end 
at once to her griefs, her sorrows and her sufferings. 
Search being made a day or two after, she was 
here found hanging to the limb of a tree. This 
occurrence gave Jemima a great deal of uneasi- 
ness, and very much alarmed the good man who 
had charitably undertaken the support of this un- 
fortunate woman. For although thev misrhtbein 
no danger of a judicial investigation, yet the cruel- 
ty and ingratitude of which she had fallen a vic- 
tim, might excite the compassion of the followers, 
and operate injuriously to Jemima's interest and 
reputation. To excuse themselves and suppress 
enquiry, the story was told with many exaggera- 
tions as to the insanity of the deceased, and a total 
denial of the brutal treatment which had produced 
the sad catastrophe. 

By her last will and testament Jemima bequeath- 
ed the estates real and personal to Rachel Malin, 
who is also charged with the support of these help- 
less old men and wpmen out of the same. Rachel 
is said to be a humane benevolent person, and a 
judicious manager; itis therefore probable that these 
unfortunate creatures will be as well taken care of 
and provided for under her superintendance, as 
they were at any time during the life of Jemima, 

The remnf\ntrof this Society still retain their hab- 
its manners and customs, and assemble for religious 
exercises as formerly. In filling the office of chief 
speaker and leader of the sect they will probably 
find somfe difficulty, that preferment being resolute- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. Ill 

Jv contended for by three rival candidates, two of 
whom being sisters of Jemima, rest their claims on 
their consanguinity to the former incumbent, and 
their competency to discharge the duties of the 
station. The other competitor for supremacy has 
equal claims on the score of talents, and has more- 
over rendered some important services at an early 
period of the Society. How this struggle for su- 
periority will terminate,, is very uncertain, and 
equally unimportant. 

Jemima appeared very desirous towards the 
close of her life to clear up her character in relation 
to several things which had been charged against 
her. Whether she had become ashamed of some 
of the impositions which she had practised in the 
early part of her career, on finding she could en- 
joy the benefits of them but little longer, or whether 
she had actually forgotten them, we are not au- 
thorised to say. But it is certain, that she took 
much pains and embraced every opportunity to 
deny thern. She was visited, about two or three 
weeks before her death, by a female acquaintance 
of hers who had known her ever since she com- 
menced preaching, but who had never been a fol- 
lower. — On this occasion Jemima talked much of 
herself and her " ministry, 55 and appeared anxious 
to impress her visitor with a favorable opinion of 
her, to convince her of the injustice done to her by 
the wicked, and of the trials and sufferings which 
she had endured for the good of mankind, and her 
resignation to whatever f ate awaited her. " I 
have," said she " been four and forty years wan- 
dering up and down, and preaching to an unfriend- 



112 HISTORY OF 

ly world. I was sent from above to do the work 
of the Lord — the great work, which none other 
could do. This work I have patiently accomplish- 
ed, though with many trials and much suffering.— 
If the Lord hath any thing more for , me to do, I 
am willing to remain yet longer, and go through a 
further pilgrimage on earth to accomplish the will 
of the Lord. But if it is the will of the Lord to 
take me, I am resigned to his will, let the Lord's 
will be done. What I have done is the work of the 
Lord, and will stand — "till heaven and earth pass, 
one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the 
law, till all be fulfilled.'* But the children of the 
devil have attempted to destroy the work of the. 
Lord, and pull me down. The servants of the 
devil have accused me of all manner of wickedness. 
But their evil doings wiU fall upon their own heads. 
When I began to preach I was as unspotted from 
the touch of man as the infant in the cradle, and 
have remained so to this moment.' 5 She mention- 
ed also that she had been accused of attempting to 
work a miracle by walking on the water, and also 
of having obtained presents and donations from her 
people by saying " the Lord hath need of this 
thing." But with great earnestness denied the 
truth of these assertions, and affirmed that they 
were the suggestions of the devil and the fabrica- 
tions cf her enemies. But these facts, together with 
many others, yet to be recorded, equally extraor- 
dinary, are too well authenticated to admit of a 
doubt, or to be passed over in silence, without do- 
ing injustice to the subject of this history. 

* Mult. 5 -IS. 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 113 

In writing the history of Jemima Wilkinson thus 
far, those specific traits of her character which 
were more particularly developed in the formation 
and government of a distinct sect, have been occa- 
sionally touched, though not enlarged upon ; some 
of her doctrines, and the manner and substance of 
her teaching, with the means whereby she acquir- 
ed and maintained her influence over the minds of 
her followers, have also been in part described.— 
la this respect, however, no more has been stated 
than was judged necessary and sufficient to connect 
the chain of facts and occurrences which constitute 
the narritive of her life, and to disclose to the rea- 
der some of the principal causes which have produ- 
ced the effects already detailed. There remains, 
therefore, many interesting anecdotes and extra* 
ordinary circumstances in relation to this singular 
personage, which, though they could not have been 
sooner brought into view, without seeming to in- 
terrupt the regular detail of facts, yet they afford a 
striking illustration of the character here drawn of 
Jemima and her Society, and without which her 
history would be incomplete. They also serve to 
show the wild and unnatural conclusions to which 
fanaticism will lead her devoted victims, and the 
gross impositions which, under the garb of reli- 
gion, may be successfully practised upon the minds 
of those who are ever ready to helieve in any 
thing that is new and marvellous, although it may 
he totalty at variance with the commonly received 
opinions of mankind, and inconsistent with reason 
and common sense. 

K.2 



114 HISTORY OF 

During her ministrations id New-England, Je- 
mima found much difficulty in persuading people 
to believe that she was a divine person. The cir- 
cumstances of her confinement during the summer 
and autumn of 1776, and her pretended rising from 
the dead, were witnessed by many persons of un- 
doubted veracity, and were publicly known and 
well understood in the neighbourhood of her resi- 
dence. But by shifting about from place to place, 
and pushing her schemes more boldly where she 
was less known, she at length, by dint of impudence 
and perseverance, succeeded in obtaining a few- 
proselytes, who, if they- did not really believe, were 
interested in reporting, that she was the " Univer- 
sal Friend of mankind and the Saviour of sinners." 
After their removal to Pennsylvania, and subse- 
quently on their settling in the Lake country, they 
found less difficulty in getting along with this item 
in the catalogue of their impositions. She and her 
sisters gave the following account of her sickness, 
death, and the re-animation of her bod}% They 
stated that " the scarlet fever broke out among the 
troops on board the British fleet at New-Port, at- 
tended with symptoms of great malignity and con- 
tagion ; it was communicated to the people on 
shore, and spread and ravaged the country to a 
considerable extent. The fever visited her father's 
family, all of whom were attacked in succession, 
and Jemima attended upon them through their ill- 
ness. During this time she frequently said if she 
should be taken with this fever, she was certain she 
should die. At length, when the others had all 
nearly recovered, the disease seized her with the 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. i ! S 

most violent symptoms. After languishing three 
weeks in the greatest distress, she became per- 
fectly helpless and speechless, and remained in that 
situation for three days, during which time her 
friends and attendants expected every moment 
would be her last. She then ceased to breathe or 
show any signs of life, when they all supposed she 
was dead. At the end of three hours, however, 
(as they pretend) she suddenly rose up in her bed, 
and, to the utter astonishment of all present, (about 
sixty in number) said in a strong and audible tone 
of voice, " Glory to God and the Lamb I" and 
immediately asked her sisters to lend her some 
clothes. They supposed at first that she had been 
in a trance and was now delirious, but remembering 
that she had been three days helpless and speech- 
less, and three hours apparently lifeless, they were 
lost in amazement, and knew not how to account 
for what they saw and heard, without ascribing it 
to some supernatural agency. According to her 
request they gave her clothes, and she dressed her- 
self without any assistance, immediately rose and 
kneeled by the side of her bed and prayed for et 
considerable time, with great fervour and solem- 
nity, and from that time went about in as good 
health as she had ever enjoyed." 

This idle story, so outrageous to common sense, 
and so utterly destitute even of ordinary probabil- 
ity, was industriously circulated by herself and her 
followers, during their residence in Pennsylvania, 
and after their settlement in the state of New-York, 
accompanied and fortified by a multitude of mar- 
vellous and mysterious circumstances, calculated to 



116 HISTORY OF 

induce a belief in the assertion that she had actual- 
ly died, and that her body had been re-animated 
by an Almighty power — all of which was aiBrmed 
by her retinue with such uniformity, and seeming 
sincerity, that many intelligent and serious people 
were led astray ; and had her conduct been as 
chaste and disinterested as her professions, the de- 
ception would probably have been practised to a 
much greater extent. Although in the latter part 
of her life she was more cautious in her public de- 
clarations as to her divinity, yet that in the early 
part of her career, and for many years after, she 
boldly and publicly maintained that she was the 
Messiah and Saviour of mankind, is too well attest- 
ed to admit of doubt. 

In her prayers and in her preaching she would 
never speak of Jesus Christ in the third person, but 
prayed to the Father for blessings on her people 
and mankind, " for the sake of the Lamb which 
was slain.'' But in her conversations with those 
who appeared to entertain doubts as to her charac- 
ter and person, she was always evasive, and en- 
deavored to shape her discourse in such a manner 
as to induce them, if possible, to believe she was 
something more than a merehumanbeing, andatthe 
same time not to shock their understandings by an 
open and positive declaration of what she wished 
them to believe. — And by her ambiguous phrases^ 
half concealed allusions, indirect suggestions, and 
significant looks and gestures, she clearly disclosed 
her intention of representing herself as an incarna- 
tion of our blessed Saviour. By this course of 
management she induced many who denied their 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. II? 

belief in her divinity, to think her a very extraor- 
dinary person. A gentleman who held these sen- 
timents respecting Jemima, and who entertained 
serious thoughts of joining the Society, sought an 
opportunity and enquired of her in direct terrrfe 
whether she did pretend to be the Messiah ? To 
this question she gave him a cautious and evasive 
answer, and concluded with repeating from John 
16th chap, and 12th verge — " I have yet many 
things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them 
now." This hypocrisy by which she had proba- 
bly deceived many, effectually opened his eyes, and 
he immediately abandoned her and dismissed all 
thoughts of becoming a follower. 

In order to establish and perpetuate the belief of 
her divine mission among her people, and to spread 
the same idea among others, she adopted a settled 
course of practice in one particular, which was 
in no case departed from ; this w T as, never to 
acknowledge her proper name. Having assumed 
the title of " Universal Friend of mankind, " she 
had no further occasion for the name of Jemima 
Wilkinson ; accordingly all her followers were 
taught as a duty to consider and call her the " Uni- 
versal Friend," and on all occasions to abstain from 
speaking of her in such a manner as to indicate 
any distinction of sex. In speaking of Jemima, or 
any thing belonging or appertaining to her, they 
always said " the Friend — it is the Friend's;" thus 
it was, "the Friend's house" — "the Friend's car- 
riage," he. but would never say her or hers, though 
to avoid it they might be compelled to use the 
word " Friend" a hundred times in the same con- 



11.8 HISTORY OF 

vcrsation. Such articles of her apparel and house- 
bold furiiiture as usually bear the initials of the 
owner's name were marked " U. F." and her tra- 
velling carriage bore the same impress. It was de- 
rogatory to the character to which she pretended 
to acknowledge any relationship or connexion 
with the human family, none therefore, over whom 
she exercised any influence, dared to call her by 
her name, or allude t^ her family or kindred, and 
when visited by strangers she enjoyed the satisfac- 
tion of hearing herself addressed in the manner pre- 
scribed to her vassals, by those who chose rather 
to flatter than offend her. In the course of her life 
she was frequently visited by clergymen of differ- 
ent denominations who, not choosing to gratify her 
vanity in this respect, called her Jemima Wilkin- 
son, and enquired of her whether that was her 
name ? to which she generally answered " Thou 
sayest it,"* or " Thou hast said it." A gentleman 
of the name of Day, on receiving this answer, en- 
quired further whether she did not belong to the 
family of Jeremiah Wilkinson, and whether he was 
not her father ? she replied, "The first man is of 
the earth, earthy : the second man is the Lord 
from Heaven."-)* She then enquired his name, 
(although she well knew it) and on receiving his 
answer, she replied " Day ! Day ! thy day will 
soon be turned into night unless thee mends thy 
ways." 

Jemima was always thus cautious and evasive 



* Ltilce 23d. 3i!- 

f 1st Corrinthians, 13tl) l 47i!j, 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 119 

when in conversation with persons of talents and 
learning, who attempted either to draw from her 
any avowal of her creed, or to controvert any 
known point of her doctrines, sometimes avoiding 
a direct answer by changing the subject of conver- 
sation, or by repenting texts of scripture, and em- 
braced every opportunity of repeating the words 
made use of by our Saviour in his answers to hrs 
disciples. Having attempted to personate Christ, 
it was to be expected she would adopt his language 
on all occasions where she could expect any bene- 
fit from it. She has frequently shown a strong de- 
sire to ascertain what the " people of the world" 
thought of her, and what they said of her, and on 
several occasions enquired of individuals whether 
they believed she was from Heaven ? A gentle- 
man to whom she addressed this enquiry, told her 
he believed her spirit came from Heaven, and from 
the common parent of all mankind, but that her 
bodj T was of human origin ; upon which she recited 
several texts of scripture, and then added, " When 
I first assumed this dead body I found much resist- 
ance from men and devils" — and was proceeding in 
this strain with affected solemnity, when her audi- 
tor, not having any great respect for her religion 
or morals, and not wishing to treat her rudely, im- 
mediately took his leave of her. These arts were 
practised by her with great assiduity and with 
considerable success. The impression thus made 
on the minds of some of her devotees was such, 
that they have, in many instances, been known to 
prostrate themselves on the floor on coming into 
her presence. Gii those occasions she would, in an 



120 HISTORY OF 

a/Tec tionate manner, desire them to rise, saying 
M See that thou 3o it not, but worship God.' The 
people of her Society affected to use rtie scripture 
language as much as possible, noi only in their 
epistolary correspondence, but hi their conversa- 
tion using thee and thou to each other : but in speak- 
ing of Jemima, or to her, they always called her 
" the Friend," the " Beloved," or the " Beloved 
Friend." In addressing heron the subject of their 
frailties and imperfections they were accustomed to 
express a " hope for pardon in the Beloved," and 
44 through the Beloved." That she absolutely re- 
quired them to worship her as their Saviour, we 
have perhaps no positive evidence ; but that she in- 
culcated this as a duty, and by some means or 
other succeeded in inducing them to acknowledge 
her as such, and address her accordingly, is well 
known to many besides her followers; and the ap- 
parent sincerity with which they rendered this 
homage, and the self-complacency with which she 
received it, prove most clearly that it was required 
by the system of religion which they had adopted. 
Some of the members, it is true, deny that they be- 
lieve she was the Messiah, but then they say she 
was an extraordinary person, unlike any other 
teacher or professor of religion. But wherein con- 
sists the extraordinary traits of character to which 
they allude, or wherein she differed from other wo- 
men, they have not, as yet, condescended to inform 
us. There are others who believe, or pretend they 
believe, that she was their Saviour, and hat their 
eternal happiness or misery depended upon their 
obedience to her, and her favour and good will to- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 121 

wards them. Some of these have been heard to 
say, even since the death of Jemima, that they 
were " so far satisfied with the all-sufficiency of 
the Friend, that they fell no necessity nor inclina- 
tion for seeking any other being as a Saviour, or 
from any other source to expect future happiness. 7 ' 
This fatal delusion has survived its hypocritical 
author, and will probably accompany its vic- 
tims through life. If a doubt is expressed to them 
on the subject they reply " the Jews disbelieved in 
the Lord at his first coming, and it is not strange if 
the world now disbelieves in his second coming," 
And when the question has been put to them di- 
rectly whether they believe she was the Saviour of 
mankind ? they answered " we cannot say that 
the Friend was not.' 5 At the commencement of 
her public career this belief was diligently promul- 
gated, and obtained from time to time considera- 
ble currency. The more cautious of her follow- 
ers would not, it is true, admit in direct terms that 
they believed Jemima to be Jesus Christ, but still 
they afforded sufficient evidence, in their demeanor 
and conversations respecting her, that they enter- 
tained this opinion ; while the more ardent and un- 
reflecting had no hesitation, nay, were ostentatious, 
in avowing their belief in the divinity of her per- 
son. One of the latter description, who in the 
early part of Jemima's priesthood was suddenly 
proselyted to her views, and continued for a short 
time one of her most furious zealots, not only ac- 
knowledged this article of their faith, but publicly 
defended it with great firmness and energy. Being 



122 HISTORY OF 

engaged in a dispute on this point at a small col- 
lection in his neighbourhood, and waxing warm iw 
the good cause, he rose from his seat, and point- 
ing to Jemima said, " That person has converted 
my soul, and I want no other Saviour, — the Uni- 
versal Friend of mankind has wrought thirteen 
miracles, which I have seen with my own eyes, 
curing the lame, the halt and the blind, and raising 
up and making instantly whole, unfortunate per- 
sons who had been diseased more than a year, and 
who were supposed to have been beyond the hope 
of relief or mercy in this world. I am therefore sa- 
tisfied of the divine character of that person, and 
shall look to none other as my Saviour." 

He continued steadfast in this belief for some 
time, and was in great repute with the members of 
the Society for his devotion and zeal, and received 
from Jemima many tokens of her approbation of 
his fidelity to her cause. But she at length miscar- 
ried in gne of her attempts to work a miracle, and 
the circumstances of her failure coming to the 
knowledge of this misguided and mystery-loving 
convert, his faith was instantly put to flight, and 
he immediately after abandoned the Society. As 
lie had been one of her most devoted followers, and 
always foremost in trumpeting her fame, particu- 
larly as it respected the number and magnitude of her 
miracles, she felt sensibly his loss; and although she 
would have gladly retained him in her service, yet 
such was the firmness and decision of his mind, and 
the promptitude with which he retracted his errors 
on discovering the true character of his mistress, and 
the nature of her pretended miracles, that she nev- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 123 

er dared to make any further attempts upon his 
credulity. 

Her followers were accustomed to address her !>y 
those names and attributes which belong only to 
the great Saviour of mankind, and an instance has 
been known of one of her disciples sending her a 
letter superscribed "To Jesus Christ." The con- 
veyance of this letter was intrusted to one of the 
followers, who showed it to a friend of hers, whom 
she visited on the way, with a view no doubt of im- 
pressing her with a belief in the divinity of her 
mistress. 

A short time after Jemima removed into the 
Lake country, she got into some difficulty by rea- 
son of these pretences. She maintained the sacred - 
ness of her person and the divinity of her character 
with such impudent boldness as to give public of- 
fence, in consequence of which a complaint was 
made to the Grand Jury of Ontario county, who 
presented an indictment againt her for blasphemy. 
But she was never arraigned upon this indictment. 
Doubts were entertained by some as to the propri- 
ety of pursuing her with a criminal prosecution in a 
land where freedom of opinion and religious tole- 
ration are secured by the Constitution, and consti- 
tute the boast of every citizen ; and others from 
delicacy to her sex, and compassion for a misgui- 
ded fanatic, were unwilling to see any thing done 
which could be ascribed to a spirit of persecution. 
These sentiments coming in aid of the earnest so- 
licitations of her friends, prevented a public trial. 
But the danger to which she had been thus expos- 
ed made a lasting impression upon the mind of Je- 



124 HISTORY OF 

mirna, and rendered her ever after exceedingly cir- 
cumspect on this subject, and her followers also be- 
came extremely cautious of promulgating or ex- 
plaining the ideas they entertained concerning her, 

Among the many schemes projected by Jemima, 
for the purpose of establishing and perpetuating 
her influence and authority over her people, 
was that of giving titles to her principal followers. 
Her title, as has been already stated, was the " Uni- 
versal Friend of Mankind. 5 ' One follower was 
called the " Prophet Elijah," and another the 
" Prophet Daniel." Sarah Richards was the 
" Prophet Daniel," and being a fine looking wo- 
man, she was sometimes dignified-with the addi- 
tion of " the beloved" She was subject to fits 
commonly called falling sickness. It was preten- 
ded by her and Jemima that, during these intervals 
of partial suspension of the animal functions, her 
spirit left her body and winged its flight to the 
heavenly regions, where she had a clear and dis- 
tinct view of the state of her fellow beings on earth, 
and of their future destiny; and w r as moreover able 
to inform every one, who wished to know, by what 
means they could secure for themselves eternal hap- 
piness; which in general was nothing more nor less 
than for those who belonged to the true fold, to 
yield implicit faith in the sanctity of Jemima, and 
unconditional obedience to her authority ; and as 
to those who were not members, they must immedi- 
ately join her Society, and become equally faithful 
and submissive. 

As Sarah sometimes had these fits when a num- 
ber were collected to hold their evening sittings, 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 125 

she and Jemima had ample opportunities of practi- 
sing their legerdemain upon the follower?, and oth- 
ers who, being neighbours, occasionally attended 
these meetings, although they were not professed 
members. While under the operation of these fits, 
Sarah would lie for some time motionless and ap- 
parently lifeless. The first indication of returning 
animation, was a tremulous motion of' the extrem- 
ities and the muscles of the face ; Jemima would 
watch these symptoms with the utmost anxiety, 
weeping violently, and repeating " dear soul, what 
pangs the Prophet Daniel endures, what agony the 
beloved suffers for the sins of the people." On re- 
covering, Sarah always had a message for some one 
or more of their acquaintance, who by the by, had 
been previously designated by Jemima. If the 
persons for whom these ghostly communications 
were intended were present, they immediately re- 
ceived them, together with such censures or com- 
mendations as Jemima thoaght fit to bestow, pre- 
faced however by this remark, " the Lord sendeth 
thee a message by the mouth of his servant the 
Prophet Daniel. 55 But if the objects of these im- 
positions happened not to be present, they were im- 
mediately complimented with an invitation to 
" come and see the Friend, for the Lord hath a 
message for thee by the mouth of his servant the 
Prophet Daniel.' 5 To the faithful and devout these 
messages were always of the most comfortable and 
flattering nature, full of gracious promises, inter- 
spersed occasionally with an intimation that a con- 
tinued and strict compliance with all the require- 
l2 



1 20 HISTORY OF 

inents of Jemima was still necessary, and that to 
fall short in any, however small a degree, in 
their duty to the " Friend," would expose them 
to imminent danger of bejng cast off forever, and 
that as she always knew the workings of their 
minds, they could not, even in secret, neglect the 
instructions which she gave them, without endanger- 
ing their safety. Others who were less devoted to the 
interests of the Society, were encouraged with the 
hope of future happiness, provided they would 
double their diligence in propitiating the Friend's 
favour, aud in rendering their assistance to pro- 
vide for the wants of the Society. In this way 
their messages were framed to suit the views of 
these crafty women, and were always graduated 
by a regular scale, from the- most flattering promi- 
ses to the faithful, to the severest denunciations a- 
gainst those who were deemed incorrigible, and 
particularly those who had offended the sisterhood. 
Against the latter in particular, she would some- 
times inveigh with extreme bitterness, and inform 
them that the Prophet Daniel had been permitted 
to view, in long perspective, the wicked lives they 
w r ere leading, their dreadful end and the fiery tor- 
ments prepared for them in another world, and 
from which nothing could save them but an imme- 
diate compliance with the requisitions of herself 
and the rules of her Society. Sarah Richards 
was in this respect, as well as in many others, a 
most convenient and useful instrument, and render- 
ed her very great assistance in obtaining proselytes 
and in governing and instructing the Society. 
But the Prophet Elijah did not act quite so dis- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 127 

interested or successful a part. He was a man of 
strong mind and still stronger passions. Jemima 
promoted him to the dignity of the Prophet Elijah 
in order to give him that influence among the breth- 
ren and sisters which was necessary to enable hint 
to subserve her interests. He afterwards conceived 
the idea of using the advantages he had thus acquir- 
ed for his own amusement and gratification. He 
accordingly undertook the business of manufactu* 
ring dreams, visions and trances, whereby he be- 
came acquainted with the destinies of some of the 
members, particularly the inexperienced and weak 
sisters, for whom he frequently had very loving 
messages, which were always delivered in private. 
Jemima, however, soon became acquainted with 
the nature of his ministrations, and immediately 
degraded him from his dignity as a Prophet, and 
thrust him out of the Society ; and although pos- 
sessed of much cunning and address, poor Elijah 
could never again reinstate himself as a member a- 
mong them. In fact, many of the Society who had, 
until then, never suspected the sanctity of the good 
Prophet, were outraged in their feelings, and ever 
after looked upon him with abhorence. 

Having had some experience in devising and 
carrying on a new system of religion, he was alto- 
gether unwilling to abandon the trade, or give up 
his pretensions to saintship. He therefore turned 
his attention to the establishment of a new congre- 
gation or Society, on a plan somewhat resembling 
the New-light Baptists. These were to be called 
Free-will Baptists, to distinguish them from other 
sects, after whom they copied so closely as to be- 



125 HISTORY OF 

come nearly identified with them in every thing 
but their name. But in this new undertaking he 
found manydifficulties, and nothavingtheassistance 
of his cunning old friend and coadjutor Jemima, 
and being in disgrace with the members of her So- 
ciety, he made but poor progress. At one time 
he had a few hearers who seemed inclined for a- 
while to listen to his exhortations. He therefore 
exerted himself with considerable diligence to in- 
fuse into them that degree of enthusiasm and ar- 
dour of devotion which would be necessary to en- 
able him to organize and maintain a distinct Soci- 
ety. The principal point insisted upon was, a su- 
perabundance of faith and zeal in the good cause 
in which they were about to engage. To effect 
this, no opportunity was omitted, nor art left 
untried, of which he was master, to bring 
them to the sticking point. He represented to 
them that if they had but " sufficient faith they 
could remove mountains." or do almost any thing 
else. He at length undertook to try an experi- 
ment upon the faith or rather credulity of an igno- 
rant African, who was labouring with him in his 
field. 

They concluded that their faith was sufficiently 
strong to enable them to run through the flame of 
a burning brush heap without receiving any inju- 
rj', and mutually agreed to perform the miracle. 
— The poor negro went first, and being a man of 
great activity, passed with the fleetness of the wind 
through the burning brush ; yet the fierceness of 
the blaze was such that he came off badly singed, 
which so cooled the ardour and staggered the faith 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 129 

of the Prophet, that he judged it more prudent to 
go round than through the fire. The unfortunate 
result of this farce put an end to the operations of 
the " Prophet Elijah," and relieved Jemima from 
the jealousy which she began to entertain of what 
she feared would at some future da} 7 , become a ri- 
val establishment. 

Jemima was liberal in the bestowment of titles 
and dignities in proportion as she found them use- 
ful in the government of her flock. One of her 
sisters was nicknamed " John the beloved," and 
was occasionally permitted to act the part of a 
Prophet, and another of the sisterhood was dubbed 
with the appellation of " Enoch the Prophet of 
old." But they were not sufficiently cunning and 
skilful to be of much service to Jemima in the 
character of Prophets. Sarah Richards was alto- 
gether the greatest adept in this business, and pro- 
bably practised as much imposition upon the mem- 
bers of the Society as Jemima did during the time 
she was a member ; in manufacturing visions and 
trances she certainly outstriped all others that at- 
tempted the business, and so well did she manage 
on these occasions that she was never foiled but 
once, and in that instance she would have succeeded 
but for the impertinent curiosity of a physician who 
had been invited to witness the operation. Jemi- 
ma had entertained strong hopes of proselyting this 
young gentleman, but as he appeared to labour 
under some doubts and scruples it became necessa- 
ry to get up one of Sarah's visions for his special 
benefit. But not happening to have a fit at hand, 
she was under the necessity of feigning oiae, a shift 



130 HISTORY OF 

to which they often resorted, as the real fits bat 
seldom occurred, and the exigencies of the Cabi- 
net required a frequent repetition of the farce. — 
While she was performing this ridiculous cheat the 
cunning Doctor stepped to the bed side, and re- 
marked that she was in a fainting fit ; but Jemima 
denied that Sarah had fainted, asserted that she 
was in a trance, and very sternly desired him not. 
to touch her. The Doctor by this time had taken 
her hand under pretence of feeling her pulse, and 
suddenly stripping up her sleeve, declared that un- 
less she was immediately bled she would expire in 
two minutes ; this so startled the " Prophet Daniel" 
that she gave a loud scream and jumped up, and 
together with those in the room, thrust the poor 
Doctor down stairs without ceremony. 

This was a sad discomfiture, and gave great of- 
fence to Jemima and those who were present on 
this important occasion. They immediately de- 
nounced him as a heretic, reprobate and incorrigi- 
ble sinner, without the hope and beyond the reach 
of mercy. Having the advantage of numbers they 
easily persuaded their friends and the members of 
the Society that the account he gave of the miscar- 
riage of the Prophet, was an invention of his own, 
and convinced them that Sarah had seen, in her 
trance, the poor Doctor, and many other such 
doubters of the faith and disturbers of the peace of 
the Society, bound with red hot chains, and rolling 
in burning brimstone, and advised all who regard- 
ed their future happiness to have nothing to do with 
so foul a sinner. They also cautioned their fol- 
lowers against crediting any thing he should say^ 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 131 

as he had taken offence, they said, at the friendly 
advice they had given him, and the attempts they 
had made to reclaim him from his wicked ways, 
and to save him from the dreadful punishment 
which S arah had very distinctly seen awaiting him. 
The members of the Society, therefore, believed 
this statement and adopted Jemima's resentment 
against the Doctor for slandering the " Prophet 
Daniel." 

Jemima always evinced a fixed determination 
to exact from her followers unconditional submis- 
sion to her authority. Sh§ possessed a lofty mind, 
a proud spirit, an impatient and high temper, and 
could not brook opposition from any person an 
any occasion whatever. She affected to consider 
herself superior to any human being, and in her 
conversations and instructions inculcated a prefer- 
ence to the wife over the husband, and in many 
instances, even in the latter part of her life, produ- 
ced much unhappiness in the families of some of 
her friends, by urging to the women that it was 
contrary to their duty, as professors of religion, to 
acknowledge, either in words or actions, the right 
of the husband to rule his household. She also 
made attempts upon children and young inexperi- 
enced persons to induce them to abandon their 
homes and join the Society. In support of this 
she quoted Hebrews twelfth chapter and ninth verse, 
" Furthermore we have had fathers of the flesh* 
which corrected us, and we gave them reverence : 
shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Fa- 
ther of Spirits, and live?" Her commentary on 
this passage of Scripture was, that although the/ 



132 HISTORY OF 

might have submitted to the authority of their fa- 
ther's, and reverenced them, yet, that in order to 
secure eternal life they should renounce all allegi- 
ance to their parents and join the Society, which 
was the true ibid 01 the faithful, and under the pro- 
tection and immediate! governance of the Lord. — 
By these means she succeeded, in the early part of 
her career, in seducing a number of young persons 
to leave their families and join her. But after pro- 
hibiting matrimony, these attempts upon the youth 
of her neighbourhood were attended with very lit- 
tle success ; few, if any, could be found who, for 
the sake of the uncertain benefits to be derived 
from joining themselves to a strange sect, whose 
system of religious worship and instruction was 
suspected, and whose morality, to say the least of 
it, was equivocal, were willing to renounce the 
principles in which they had been educated, and 
abandon all hopes of that happiness which arises 
from a compliance with the obvious dictates of our 
nature and the first wish of the heart of man. 

As Jemima always had some text to suit every 
occasion, so she could prove by scripture authority 
that women ought not to yield obedience to their 
husbands. " We ought to obey God rather than 
man" — Acts 5th, 29ch. This text she quoted on 
such occasions, and expounded it as follows : — 
" We," meaning women exclusively, " ought not 
by intermarrying with the men, to give them a pre- 
text, according to the fashion and custom of a 
wicked world, for exacting obedience from us, who 
they acknowledge to be the better part of creation; 
and that such women as have unfortunately been 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 1J3 

Warrred before they became acquainted with the 
true interpretation of Scripture, and our doctrines 
on this subject, are in duty bound to renounce all 
allegiance to their husbands, and if possible to ob- 
tain the supremacy in relation to the domestic po- 
lice and government of the family." But in all 
cases where the husband belonged to, or would 
join the Society, the question of superiority was 
always settled between them by Jemima in person, 
and her requisitions were, in these, as in almost all 
other cases, scrupulously complied with. 

It is not intended, neither is It necessary, to enter 
into an elaborate discussion of tire respective rights 
and duties of the parties to the marriage contract. 
These are relative and easily understood by those 
to whom they appertain, and it is very probable that 
more happiness is enjoyed in those families where 
these points are never agitated, than where they 
are made the subjects of domestic controversy.— 
A well bred liberal minded man will be satisfied 
with the care and attention bestowed by his wife in 
that department which nature and the custom of 
the country have assigned her, without wishing to 
controul her in the exercise of her judgment in dis- 
charging the duties she owes to herself and her 
family ; and a prudent wife, who regards the hon- 
or and interests of her husband and the happiness 
of her children, will voluntarily do more towards 
promoting these objects than she could be induced 
to perform by the exercise of any compulsory right 
or authority which the husband may pretend to 
possess for enforcing her obedience. But in the 



134 HISTORY OF 

opinion of Jemima, it was not sufficient that the 
sexes should be considered equal. She had been 
long accustomed to exercise her authority over her 
followers both male and female without opposition, 
and in some instances with extreme severity. This 
gave her an exalted opinion of the superiority of 
her own sex, and of their peculiar fitness to govern, 
and it is not improbable but in process of time, she 
reasoned herself into the belief that in some Jan- 
lucky moment the order of nature had been rever- 
sed, that the empire of man was a mere assump- 
tion of power, obtained by force and fraud, and 
that under her happy auspices the fair sex were 
to be restored to those rights and dignities of which 
they had been thus despoiled. To effect this im- 
portant revolution in practice and sentiment, among 
the members of her Society at least, Jemima took 
unwearied pains, in which she was more successful 
than would be readily believed by any person un- 
acquainted with the materials upon which she thus 
operated, and the means by which she usually car- 
wed her points. That she completely succeeded in 
this scheme with respect to a large proportion of 
her followers, is obvious to any one who has had 
even a moderate acquaintance with the Society. — 
Those male members who-by long submission have 
become accustomed and reconciled to this petticoat 
discipline, discover its effects in their looks and ac- 
tions so plainly, that they are apparent even to a 
stranger. But they have an excuse for this as well 
as for almost every other departure from the com- 
mon customs of the world, and the meanness, the 
quiescent and subdued spirit of these people, are 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 135 

palmed upon the public for meekness and humili- 
ty, and the effects of the benign influence of Jemi- 
ma's system of religion. 

In order to establish her power more firmly, and at 
the same time gratify her occasional resentments, Je- 
mima frequently exercised her authority in pun- 
ishing those who had been guilt} 7 of violating any 
of her commands. In some instances her deci- 
sions were extremely Iudicrous,and the punishments 
which she inflicted were often of the most degrad- 
ing nature. Although she always maintained a 
most serious and sanctimonious exterior in presence 
of her followers generally, yet there were moments 
when in private with Sarah Richards, and one or 
two others who enjoyed her confidence, in which 
she relaxed from her wonted severity, and indulged 
in frivolity and merriment. Their private room 
being on the second floor, they thought themselves 
secure from prying eyes and listening ears, and get- 
ting into a pretty high frolic one evening, their 
mirth attracted the curiosity of one of the mem- 
bers, who very silly climbed up into the top of a 
cherry tree, which stood immediately in front of 
their window, from whence lie had a fair view 
of an exhibition which, to him,, was altogether 
new, and very amusing. But in retreating from 
his post of observation he was unluckily intercept- 
ed by one of the domestics, by whom information 
was conveyed to Jemima. The next day this in- 
quisitive sinner was arraigned before the Cabinet; 
Council, and threatened with the most awful pun- 
ishment for the dreadful crime of which he had 
been guilty. The poor deluded wretch trembled 



133 HISTORY OF 

in every joint, and probably imagined that his last 
hour had arrived. He therefore confessed his 
guilt and the motives which had led to the perpe- 
tration of the offence, and very devoutly and fer- 
vently begged for mercy. After torturing him 
with the fear of perdition for some time, Jemima, 
in token of her great forbearance and loving kind- 
ness to all dutiful and penitent members of her com- 
munity, and in consideration of his extreme dis- 
tress and deep humility for all his sins, and this 
most heinous one in particular, condescended to 
let him off with a smail portion of that punishment 
with which he had been at first threatened : which 
was no other than to wear a sheep hell suspended 
from his neck by a small rope, for three week?, in 
public and private, and to appear thus accoutred 
at all their public meetings and evening sittings 
during that time. He no doubt thought himself 
extremely fortunate in escaping so easily, and a — 
eribeoT his exemption from a more terrible punish- 
ment to the benignity of his beloved mistress. He 
therefore cheerfully assumed this degrading badge 
of submission and slavery, and patiently asquiesced 
in his sentence as to the time and manner of wear- 
ing the bell ; nay, he became a little ostentatious in 
his compliance with these orders, as evincing great- 
er devotion to the Friend, and of course more re- 
ligion than was common to the other members, 
while Jemima and her coadjutors secretly laughed 
at his ignorance, his stupidity and his folly. 

Another having given Jemima offence by some 
unseemly trick, not necessary here to be mentioned, 
was sentenced to wear on his head a black cap for 



JEMttIA WILKINSON. i37 

two or three weeks. This sentence was carried in- 
to execution with the same punctuality as the for- 
mer, and the poor man who suffered this penalty 
to propitiate offended majesty, no doubt consider- 
ed himself lucky in escaping a still greater punish- 
ment. 

It was no uncommon thing for Jemima and Sa- 
rah to indulge themselves in mirth and laughter at 
the oddities of their followers ; and the ignorance, 
credulity and stupidity of these deluded people were 
frequently the subject of sport and sarcastic re- 
mark between them. It is not essential to, nor 
perhaps consistent with, the character of the true 
christian to be continually wrapped in mystery and 
gloom, or to seclude himself altogether from a so- 
cial and cheerful intercourse with his fellow man ; 
but it is scarcely to be tolerated in any one, and par- 
ticularly in a professor of religion, to ridicule and 
sneer at those acts of devotion which others, in. the 
sincerity of their hearts, think it their duty to per- 
form, much less can a justification be imagined for 
the founder and governness of an infatuated Soci- 
ety, in ridiculing that deportment which she requir- 
ed of its members, and that credulity and delusion 
which she had brought upon them. When she ar- 
rived at Newtown, on her way to the " promised 
land," a number of persons came to the beach and 
met them at their landing ; on their approach, Je- 
mima seeing that several of them, particularly some 
boys and young Indians on the bank of the river, 
were not very genteelly apparelled, jocosely remar- 
ked to Sarah Richards, " see how the fig-Ua*z$ 
m2 



133 HISTORY OF 

rattle ;" * person standing near enquired her 
meaning, when finding she had been overheard, 
very gravely explained herself by saying, " Now 
the Loi u -;:.:h ee**« ai£U3&g them, they are all pre- 
pared with an excuse for the misdeeds they have 
done, and these excuses are the Jig-leaves to which 
the Friend alludes." Whether this was the true 
explanation of her meaning, or the result of her 
ready wit in devising the means of concealing her 
levity, is perhaps immaterial, as in either case we 
have the strongest evidence of her hypocrisy and 
falsehood ; for if she intended to ridicule their tat- 
tered garments, which was undoubtedly the fact, 
her explanation was not true ; and if that was not 
her intention, she was guilty of falsehood and im- 
posture in pretending to be their Lord. 

Although Jemima ga.ve an obvious preference to 
the females over the males in all matters and things 
relating to the government and welfare of the So- 
ciety, yet in her intercourse with strangers and 
people not belonging to her community, it was ap- 
parent that she always preferred the company of 
men to those of her own sex. She showed also a 
particular partiality for gentlemen of education and 
literature, and appeared desirous of obtaining use- 
ful information from them whenever she had an op- 
portunity. And in return, she would endeavor to 
requite them for her improvement on literary and 
scientific subjects, by imparting to them some dis- 
interested advice in relation to their present and fu- 
ture state, in which she would sometimes venture 
to recommend her creed as the only safe and sure 
tjfctgrt of religion. This taste for literary compa- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 139 

iiy and thirst for knowledge increased with her 
years, and in the latter part of her life became ex- 
ceedingly strong ; she suffered no opportunity to 
pass unimproved of adding to her stock of legal 
acquirements. But this is easily accounted for 
by the circumstance of her having had much 
trouble and many suits in relation to her proper- 
ty, and it is not surprising that she should feel a 
strong inclination to cultivate an acquaintance 
with those principles and legal maxims which con- 
stitute our only security in the enjoyment of pri- 
vate property. Jemima preached against the vani- 
ty of riches, and the sinfulness of the pride and 
pomp of the world, and inculcated meekness and 
humility, while, at the same time, she was not on- 
ly avaricious, but haughty and vainglorious ; and 
despised the poor whether they were her follow- 
ers or not. Her attempts to gain proselytes were 
always among those who had property and the 
means of assisting towards her own support ; but 
the indigent she considered as a burthen, and kept 
them from her presence. Although they might be 
fed in her kitchen when they came to her house, 
yet she would not suffer them to approach her. 
On being informed that she had been charged with 
this partiality among her followers, she replied, " 1 
do not choose to have my house overrun with such 
creatures ; they are no company for any body — - 
There are persons whose company is agreeable to 
me, and them I will entertain ; but the low set I will 
not be troubled with." 

There was a woman belonging to the society 
whose family was poor, and who lived very unhao- 



U) HISTORY OF* 

pily vyith her husband. He had no faith in the 
divinity or morality of Jemima, and was not well 
satisfied with his wife's connexion with the socie- 
ty ; he sometimes ridiculed her credulity, and she 
defended her creed and faith with the greater ob- 
stinacy. She was disposed to part with him and 
join herself to the household of the Friend. But this 
Jemima would not permit; but enjoined it upon 
the woman to stay with her husband " to torment 
him for his obstinacy in abusing and speaking ill 
of the Friend." — In a conversation with an acquain- 
tance, about a year before her death, Jemima gave 
the above reason for prohibiting this unfortunate 
follower from coming to live with her, and added, 
that should they separate, it would only produce 
trouble to herself, as the woman was poor and had 
nothing to bring with her, and of such she had too 
many already. She alsoexpressed herself in terms 
of strong resentment against the husband, and re- 
peated, " I will compel her to stay with him, to re- 
venge myself on him for his obstinacy and profli- 
gacy ;" and evinced a most malignant temper to- 
wards him, and a total apathy towards his unfortu- 
nate w r ife, whom, by her incantations, she had ren- 
dered miserable. 

While Jemima resided in Pennsylvania, a Mrs. 
L. joined her society, and as her husband was a 
wealthy man, great pains were taken to induce him 
also to become a member. Being deceived by the 
many stories which were circulated of the mj'ste- 
ries and miracles of the Friend, he became a steady 
attendant at her meetings, and for a while Jemima 
thought herself sure of him. — But making rather 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 141 

too bold an attempt upon bis purse, she gave bin* 
the alarm. Her avarice appeared to him altogeth- 
er inconsistent with the character to which she pre- 
tended, and his doubts and his fears on this- sub- 
ject, led him to a rational enquiry into her preten- 
sions and conduct; which brought him to the con- 
clusion that the less he had to do with her the bet- 
ter, and he accordingly withdrew altogether. — 
But his wife had become so perfectly infatuated 
that she could not be prevailed on to leave Jemi- 
ma without her consent/and this, as might naturally 
have been expected, was not given, so long as 
there remained the most distant prospect of obtain- 
ing him. But after giving up all hopes of succeed- 
ing with him, and finding the woman brought noth- 
ing into the society but trouble and expense, Jemi- 
ma dismissed her and sent her back to her hirs- 
baod and family, after an absence of near sevcu 
years. 

There are many other instances in which the 
conduct of Jemima in relation to the government 
of the society and the procurement of new mem- 
bers, clearly proves that she cared but little for the 
poor, and that her chief attention was paid to tke 
wealthy, from whom she derived the means of sup- 
porting herself and her household ; and that her 
care of the souls of men was graduated according 
to the property which they possessed and the pro- 
portion which she expected to appropriate to her 
«;wn use. 

Jemima was extremely superstitious, and as her 

lower§ generally adopted her sentiments and 

>wed her advice in. all matters of faith and mvs- 



142 HISTORY OF 

tery, they, for. the mostpart, became equally so. 
Every extraordinary occurrence which happened 
at home or abroad, whether it concerned them or 
not, was foreseen by her in a vision or a dream, and 
after the public had become fully informed on the 
subject through the ordinary channels of informa- 
tion, she could inform her people of the dream she 
had, or the vision she had seen at the very moment 
the affair happened. She was excessively fond of 
relating her dreams, some of which were very ex- 
traordinary, if they were really the dreams of 
sleep, and not, as we have great reason to suspect, 
the vagrant reveries of her wakeful moments. Of 
these she had a great variety, which, if collected 
and properly arranged, would make a volume a- 
bout equal to " Mother Bunch's Fairy Tales." — 
From the following specimen the reader may form 
a pretty correct idea of the whole catalogue. 

"I dreamed," she said, i: that I saw the whole 
universe called to judgment by the sound of the last 
trumpet — I was among the last who obeyed the 
summons, and the most undistinguished among the 
innumerable assembly. Suddenly I beheld a cross 
in the heavens hovering directly over my head, and 
at the same time I heard a voice from some hidden 
place proclaim ; the last shall be first and the first 
last : come forth ye chosen of the Lord ;' and at 
that moment I awoke to the sad reality of this life." 

A young gentleman residing in her neighbor- 
hood having noticed her fondness for dreams, and 
dreaming, and feeling inclined to flatter her vanity, 
visited her on a certain occasion, and very grave- 
ly informed her that he had recently experienced 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 143 

n very singular and extraordinary dream, and was 
in great difficulty as to its true interpretation. She 
was highly delighted with this reference to her 
wisdom from a person ' c of the world," and of 
whom, until then, she had never entertained any 
hopes. She therefore very graciously desired him 
to give her a circumstantial relation of his dream, 
and she had no doubt but the true interpretation 
would-be revealed to her. — He accordingly pro- 
ceeded to state that in his dream he " had seen a 
mighty tempest accompanied with thunder and 
lightning, and hail and rain, which continued for 
many days. That the floods came and swept the 
plains and vallies with destruction, and at length 
covered the whole country. And he saw the af- 
frighted inhabitants fleeing in the greatest conster- 
nation and confusion, to the tops of the highest 
hills and mountains, whither they were pursued by 
the desolating flood. In the meantime he saw 
8 The Universal Friend of Mankind' in a greafr 
vessel resembling in its form and appearance the 
pictures which he had seen of Noah's ark, with all 
her followers on board, and floating safely on the 
top of the angry tide. And he saw great multitudes 
who were driven about among the foaming billows, 
and near drowning, approach the ark and beg 
for admittance, and call upon the name of ' The 
Universal Friend of Mankind' to come and save 
them. — But they were told that they had rejected 
her offers and neglected her counsel all their lives ; 
that the day of her grace was past, and they must 
take the consequences of their obstinacy and un- 
belief. Thus they were rejected and all were swal- 



144 HISTORY OF 

lowed up and destroyed, except Jemima and her 
followers.'' 

She then assured him that his dream was too 
plain in its meaning to require an interpretation, 
and that, at some future period, which she did not 
then choose to name, it would be literally fulfilled 
and that, as it proved her system to be the only 
true one, and the ark of safety, it ought to admon- 
ish him and all others of the dangers of delaying 
until the threatened calamity should come upon 
them. 

The relation of this pretended dream gave Jemi- 
ma much satisfaction; and On many occasions she 
gravely rehearsed it as a revelation of the judg- 
ment which awaited those who continued obstinate 
in rejecting the faith. 

Dreaming, and seeing apparitions, and hearing 
extraordinary noises and ominous sounds, were ve- 
rv common to the Society, in which all the mem- 
t»ers were allowed to participate ; and whoever had 
the most ingenuity in fabricating or embellishing 
fe tale of wonder, was sure to dish up the greatest 
treat. — But the manufacturing of visions and fore- 
telling future events (after they had happened) be- 
ing a business of too delicate and intricate a na- 
ture to be entrusted to unskilful hamis, was alto- 
gether monopolized by Jemima. She did not, it 
is true, enjoy the exclusive right by virtue of let- 
ters patent from the government, though she might 
perhaps have been well entitled to it as the origi- 
nal inventor, yet as her inhibition had, as to her fol- 
lowers, the sanction ol law, her privileges in this 
respect were rarely or never encroached upon. Sa-^ 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 145 

rah Richards was, however, by special favour, anil 
perhaps (or special purposes permitted to take a share 
in this employment. There was moreover, seine 
necessity for this indulgence to Sarah. She was 
an active-minded enterprising person, as proud and 
as high spirited as Jemima, and had become so 
well acquainted with her secret history, as to place 
the latter completely in her power 5 her acknowl- 
edgment of Jemima's supremacy was no more than 
was requisite to enable them to maintain, by delu- 
sion, their authority over the members of the So- 
ciety ; her obedience was merely nominal and ren- 
dered only in return for such condescensions as 
she chose to insist upon from Jemima. She was 
also at least as well, if not belter, qualified to act 
this part than Jemima ; as her Jits were denomi- 
nated trances, and as there could be but little dif- 
ference between the two in the minds of those who 
knew nothing about either, she could impose a be- 
lief in the one, when from the presence of the other, 
she was incapable of any thing else. During the 
time she resided with Jemima they were mutually 
dependent upon each other, for, although it would 
have been in the power of either, at any time, to 
expose the true character of the other, yet as the 
consequences would have been fatal to the propects 
and prosperity of both, neither chose to try the ex- 
periment. They therefore made out so to manage 
their own private affairs, as that ifany difficulties 
ever happened, they were kept secret fern their 
followers, and the utmost harmony appeared al- 
ways to have existed between them. 



146 HISTORY OF 

The power and spirit of prophecy were pc- 
sed by Jemima, and exercised by her on many oc- 
casion?, and she ostentatiously boasted of having 
predicted the Revolution in France, the beheading 
of Louis, the destruction of the Royal family, the 
downfall of the French monarchy, and many of the 
most important events which have since happened 
in Europe. The invasion of Russia by Bonaparte 
in 1812, his discomfiture, his subsequent battles 
and defeats, his deposition and retirement to the 
Island of Elba, his return to Paris, the battle of 
Waterloo, and his final dethronement and impris- 
onment at St. Helena, all took place, as she preten- 
ded, in exact fulfilment of her prophecies. 

She also prognosticated an insurrection a- 
mong the blacks in one of the Southern states, the 
late war between this country and England, the 
capture of the city of Washington, and the defeat 
of the British troops at New-Orleans, together 
with many other important events which occurred 
during the war. — But in all these cases, it happens, 
most unfortunately for her veracity, that nobody 
knew any thing of her prophecies until after the 
events, to which they related, had transpired and 
become matters of public notoriety* 

In one instance, however, she ventured to dis- 
close a prediction before its fulfilment : This, also, 
w 7 as in relation to Napoleon Bonaparte. She was 
a great admirer of this enterprising and victorious 
chieftain, and her partiality for him probably con- 
stituted the inspiration which dictated her prophe- 
cy. — She said M he was an instrument in the hands 
of the Almighty for the purpose of bringing all the 



' mum** tii 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 147 

nations of the earth under one government, pre- 
paratory to the secondcoming of the Lord ; that 
he would retu rn to France, become again a migh- 
ty conqueror and subject the whole world to his 
sway." — Jemima set a great value on this prophe- 
cy, and appeared to rely w T ith the utmost confi- 
dence upon the exact fulfilment of it. She com- 
municated it to a number of persons whose confi- 
dence and good opinion she wished to gain, to the 
end, that the final accomplishment of this predic- 
tion should convince them that her claims to divin- 
ity were well founded. 

Having assumed the character of a Saviour of the 
world, Jemima soon found it expedient to lay claim 
to the possession of those powers which distinguished 
the Messiah, and which by affording occular de- 
monstration of his authority, were more peculiarly 
calculated to convince the beholder of the divinity 
of his person and the truth of his mission. She 
therefore, in a very early stage of her career, pre- 
tended to possess, not only the spirit of prophecy, 
but the power of working miracles. This was the 
most impolitic of all her pretensions, as it afforded 
a criterion by which it could easily be determined 
whether she possessed any qualifications not com- 
mon to her sex. Being fully sensible of the dan- 
ger of detection, she carefully forbore attempting 
any extraordinary performance, contenting her- 
self with simply asserting her powers, without 
deigning to condescend to the exercise of them, and 
itwasnot until her veracity came to be doubted, and 
her character began to suffer, even among her fol- 
lowers, that she yielded to the necessity of attempt- 



143 HISTORY OF 

ingto work a miracle. Those who had no fiUh 
in her preaching; and looked upon her as an im- 
postor, staled to her that Jesus Christ walked on 
the water, and if she was charged with a divine 
mission from Heaven, it was expected she could do 
the same; and some of her followers also felt a 
strong desire to see her give some evidence of the 
truth of her assertions concerning herself, by which 
they might not only become more perfectly satis- 
fied themselves, but with which they could effectu- 
ally answer the reasons and arguments made use 
of by their enemies. Jemima finding herself thus 
beset on all hands, was at length compelled to un- 
dertake the hazardous experiment of attempting to 
walk on the water. Trusting therefore to acci- 
dent and the resources of her cunning mind for 
escaping exposure, she appointed a time at which 
she would meet her friends on the margin of Taun- 
ton river, in the town of Swanzey, and convince 
them of the reality of w r hat she had taught them to 
believe, by walking on the water. She made her 
appearance at the time and place appointed, 
where she was met by a large collection of people, 
eager to witness the exhibition which had been 
promised them. She then commenced with an 
eloquent and fervent prayer, with which she occu- 
pied their attention a considerable time, after which 
she proceeded to the delivery of a discourse, in 
which she lectured her audience with considerable 
ability and with great severity, particularly on ac- 
count of their want of faith. She told them that if 
they had faith to believe that she could perform the 
works of the Lord 3 they might rest satisfied 3 for if 






JEMiMA WILKINSON. 149 

should be well with them, and as to those who did 
not believe, they are " an evil generation : they 
seek a sign ; and there shall no sign be given it, 
but the sign of Jonas the prophet."*— " Why doth 
this generation seek after a sign ? Verily I say 
unto you, there shall no sign be given to this gen- 
eration."! — "A wicked and adulterous genera- 
tion seeketh after a sign ; and there shall no sign 
be given unto it, but the sign of the Prophet Jo- 
nas."! — She continued her discourse at considera- 
ble length, admonishing her friends to beware of 
the doubts and difficulties thrown in their way by a 
wicked world, which was meant by an " evil gene- 
ration." She also reproved those who came there 
to gratify ail idle curiosity, instead of listening to 
the voice of truth, and was particularly severe and 
bitter against those who had required this evidence 
of the truth of her words. She then addressed the 
whole in kind and affectionate language, proclaim- 
ed that she was the " Universal Friend of Man- 
kind," and that those who believed in the truth of 
her doctrines, obejed her precepts and followed 
her advice, would be sure of a final passport to 
Heaven, while those who denied her authority and 
rejected her counsels, would be cut off without 
the hope of pardon or mercy. After hearing her 
through and receiving her blessing, the assembly 
separated and peaceably retired to their homes, 
some filled with awe and fear of her power ami 

*Luke 11th, 29th. 
f Mark 8th, 12th. 
$ Matthew 16tb, 4th. 

N % 



150 HISTORY OF 

authority, some with commisseration at her delu- 
sion, and others with contempt for her hypocrisy.. 
This occurrence became the subject of mirth and 
ridicule to those who did not belong to the Society, 
and aflbrde&them the means of annoying her fol- 
lowers, by putting them in mind of the cheat which 
Jemima. had practised upon their credulity. But 
this defeat made no visible impression on their 
minds, nor did itatall shake theconfidencethey pre- 
tended to repose in her perfectibility. The sub- 
ject was duly canvassed among themselves in their 
own way, and although she had not seen fit to 
walk en the w;ater on that occasion, they thought 
she had given a very satisfactory reason for the 
omission • and that whenever it should suit her con- 
venience she would no doubt perform such a mira- 
cle as would satisfy them ail. As a story never 
loses any thing by travelling orrepetition, so the 
gelation of this adventure increased in importance 
us it was handed from one to another, until on 
reaching her distant followers, it was magnified 
into a miracle of the first water, and many who 
were always ready to believe any tale, however 
preposterous^ provided it went to establish the 
character. of Jemima as a Prophetess,, undoubted- 
ly believed the fact as firmly as they believed! in 
their own existence. Jemima therefore derivech 
from this abortive attempt, all the benefit, as it res- 
pected the faith of her followers, which she could 
have received from the most complete success ; and . 
besides, it taught her the expediency of choosing 
iier owe mode of working awacles, in order to in- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 15t 

sure the greater facility in palming these impos- 
tures upon her deluded followers. 

Jemima was for some time in doubt as to the effect 
her late attempt at working a miracle would pro- 
duce upon the public mind. With respect to her 
followers she had but little difficulty in reconciling 
them to whatever she chose to require, particular- 
ly in matters of faith and mystery. In this instance 
she saw that no sensible diminution of confidence 
had been produced among them, and as to the 
opinion of the world, she pretended that it gave 
her no concern, otherwise than as their stubborn- 
ness and unbelief subjected them to the danger of 
being cut off from all hopes of future happiness. 
The next scheme projected by Jemima for prov- 
ing her infallibility, and convincing doubters of the 
truth of her mission, was to heaP the sick. As a& 
attempt of this sort would not be so public in its na- 
ture, nor so likely to expose her to immediate detec- 
tion, she naturally calculated upon a greater pro- 
liability of success, in case she could find a fit op- 
portunity. Nor was it long before an occasion 
presented itself every way to her liking. A Miss 
Sarah Stone had been violently ill and was just 
beginning to recover, when Jemima called to heal 
her malady. A considerable number of her fol- 
lowers assembled to witness the ceremony* Jemi- 
ma having prayed with them, look the patient out 
of her bed, and placed her in an easy chair, and 
then delivered an exhortation, in which she assert- 
ed her power to heal the sick, and recommended to 
the girl patience, resignation and faith, particular- 
ly the latter? pretending that the good effects, o£ 



152 HISTORY OF 

what had been done, depended altogether on her 
faith in the power which she possessed of working 
miracles, — and promised her a certain and speedy 
recovery in case she exercised a sufficient degree 
of faith. She then departed, and the young wo- 
man regularly and slowly regained her health and 
strength, probably in the same manner as she would 
have done had Jemima let her alone. But she had 
been sick, the Friend had visited her, and promised 
her a certain restoration to health, and she was now 
completely restored. All therefore, who chose to 
believe in the miraculous effects of Jemima's im- 
pertinent interference, were at full liberty to enjoy 
their opinions^ and to assert the infallibility of their 
mistress, whenever, and as often as suited their con- 
venience. But those who did not belong to the 
Society considered it a mere trick which the most 
stupid must easily understand ; they .thought little 
of it, and the circumstance was soon forgotten, 
and probably would never have been recollected 
had it not grown into a miracle on travelling a lit- 
tle distance from home. This trifling occurrence 
was of great service to Jemima. The tale was told 
to her distant followers with variations and exag- 
gerations, was handed from one to another, rehears- 
ed in the public meetings and evening sittings of 
the faithful, w r ith a train of circumstances which 
never existed, until it assumed the form and sub- 
stance of a full grown miracle. Thus the members 
were prompted to greater zeal in her service, and 
thereby some little additions were made to their 
different Societies. 

The success of this miracle added greatly to the 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. . 153 

satisfaction and pride of Jemima, and rendered her 
people more devoted to her service, more easily 
governed, and withal, a little more liberal in their 
donations for her support, which latter was a point 
of the first importance to her, and to which she al- 
ways attended with the utmost care and solicitude. 
She now projected another visit to Pennsylvania, 
and called upon the members to provide the means 
of prosecuting her journey with ease and comfort. 
They readily furnished her with the necessary sup- 
plies, and Jemima, attended as usual, proceeded on 
her way rejoicing at the complete success of this 
paltry contrivance, by which she had gained so 
many advantages. This was her second journey 
to Pennsylvania, and at this time she formed a re- 
gular Society at Worcester, and, as will readily be 
seen, she was much assisted by the rehearsal of all 
the circumstances of her great achievment in heal- 
ing the sick, which was now multiplied into a doz- 
en, at least, of as wonderful miracles as ever were 
wrought since the foundation of the world. Here 
the effect produced by the promulgation of these 
idle stories, was still greater than it had been in 
Rhode-Island, not that the people were greater 
fools, for that was impossible, but because there 
was a sufficient number to affirm to the truth of 
them, and no one to contradict, or 'even explain 
the circumstances. Those who had become fol- 
lowers rejoiced at this new evidence of the divinity 
of their Idol, the wavering were confirmed, and 
many were added to their numbers r so that this So- 
ciety, though recently formed, was nearly as nu- 
merous, and at least as wealthy and zealous as that 



154 HISTORY OF 

in Rhode-Island. Jemima did not at this time at- 
tempt any marvellous exploits at Worcester, but 
her attendants were very anxious to seize upon 
some circumstance, out of which they could manu- 
facture a miracle by the time they should revis- 
it their New-England friends. Whenever any 
w r ere sick in her Society, it was their custom to 
send for Jemima, who never failed to visit them on 
these occasions. In two or three instances during 
her stay, she was called to visit persons who were, 
or pretended to be, indisposed, and who were appa- 
rently in perfect health the day following. In these 
cases, the sudden recovery of the patients was as- 
cribed altogether to the exercise of the power of Je- 
mima to heal the sick, so that on their return to 
Rhode-Island her attendants had ten or a dozen 
very respectable miracles to give an account of, 
and which were, as usual, listened to with open- 
mouthed wonder, by her adoring followers. Al- 
though Jemima saw distinctly the good effects pro- 
duced by these deceptions, and felt much elated 
with her success, yet she was cautious of attempting 
them too often, lest she should miscarry in some of 
her schemes, and thereby lose the advantages 
which she had thus gained. She therefore made 
shift to get along with the concerns of her Society 
for nearly three years, without attempting any 
new or marvellous performances. 

But at length it became necessary to resort to 
her old practices in order to keep up appearances, 
and to sustain the drooping confidence of her fol- 
lowers. The stories of her healing the sick, be- 
coming stale and uninteresting, by being repeated 



JEMIMA WILKINSON- 155 

a thousand times, they began to wish for some new 
evidence of the power of Jemima. Those w 7 ho 
really believed in these miracles, entertained no 
doubt but that she could repeat them whenever she 
pleased, and those who suspected the deception 
were equally well satisfied that she was sufficiently 
skilful to exhibit another specimen of this leger- 
demain without exposing herself to detection* The 
whole Society, therefore, now became anxious to 
witness a further display of her power, and a more 
striking illustration of her character. Jemima 
was perfectly aware of this disposition on the part 
of her people, and had been for some time prepar- 
ing the means of gratifying it. But as the trick of 
healing the sick had already produced all the ef- 
fects that could be expected from it, she had de- 
termined on a new and more imposing miracle, 
and had accordingly taken measures for raising 
(he dead. 

There was at this time an interesting young wo- 
man residing with Jemima, who had been for a 
considerable time & faithful and favoured follower, 
and who was the subject upon which this miracle 
was to be performed. It was arranged by Jemi- 
ma that this person should feign herself sick, and, 
while she remained sfecluded from company, it 
should be publicly stated, from time to time, that 
her malady was increasing, until finally it should 
be announced, that her spirit had left its taberna* 
cle of clay, and ascended to the mansions of bliss. 
The usual preparations for her interment were then 
to be made, she was to be put in a coffin so con- 
structed as to admit a sufficient quantity of air to 



15G HISTORY OF 

support life — Jemima was to preach a funeral ser- 
mon, arc! lastly when the procession was proceed- 
ing to the burial ground, Jemima was to walk by 
the side of the coffin, constantly and vehemently 
engaged in prayer, and at a suitable time she was 
to pray' to the " Father in Heaven, to restore their 
dear deceased friend to life, for the sake of the 
Lamb that was slain." Whereupon the girl in the 
coffin should give a signal by imitating the groans 
and struggles of a person recovering from a fit ; 
the coffin was then to be set down and opened, and 
she being found alive, was to finish the farce, and 
constitute the miracle of raising a dead person to 
life. Horrible and hazardous as this blasphemous 
project may appear, yet this bold and profligate 
woman had the hardihood to commence her opera- 
tions, and actually attempt carrying it into effect. 
The young woman pretended to be unwell, and 
then so ill as to be confined to her bed. Jemima, 
under the pretence of her being a " dear and favor- 
ite follower," took upon herself the care of her pa- 
tient ; she would not allow any physician to be cal- 
led in, neither was any person, excepting those 
who from necessity were intrusted with the secret, 
permitted to see her cr even to come into her room. 
Her nearest friends were members of the flock, and 
durst not disobey Jemima, they could not there- 
fore interfere. Some two or three who had been 
iier companions, being alarmed on account of the 
dangerous situation in which she was represented 
to be, called at the house, and begged admittance, 
but were uniformly and pertinaciously refused. — 
Jemima u^d her creatures informed them, that the 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 157 

young Friend was in the hands. of the Lord, who 
would deal with her for the best, and that they 
need give themselves no trouble on the subject; 
that if her hour was come she must depart, and if 
not, they would in due time see her restored to 
health. As Jemima had been a long time medita- 
ting this project, and preparing the means for car- 
rying it into execution, her arrangements and the 
discipline of her confidants were such that she 
found no difficulty whatever in continuing the 
deception until the seventh day of the pretended 
sickness of her patient, which was intended to be 
the last j during all which time she had succeeded 
in every respect to her entire satisfaction. The fo£- 
lowers of Jemima believed that she could heal tlje 
sick, and hoped that, as she had not for a long time 
exercised this prerogative, she would consider the 
present as a favorable opportunity for making an- 
other manifestation of her power and glory, and 
therefore entertained strong hopes that this favour- 
ite of the Friend would suddenly be restored to 
health. This idea was countenanced by various 
hints and half expressed sentences from one to an- 
other, until it became general among the members 
throughout the neighbourhood. Among the in- 
mates of Jemima to whom the true secret of this 
farce was necessarily confided, was a companion 
of the sick sister, who was much attached to her. — • 
She had from the commencement of this scheme 
felt a strong repugnance to it, and bad at first yield- 
ed her assent in obedience to the authority of 
her mistress j but she now became alarmed with the 
o 



158 HISTORY OF 

horrid nature of the imposture in which she was 
acting a part, and knew that in case they should 
succeed according to their calculation, the secret 
could not be kept but by a continued perseverance 
in falsehood during her whole life. She had there* 
fore determined on breaking up the show, if possi- 
ble, and if not, to retire from any farther partici- 
pation in its guilt. 

Jemima was called from home about three miles 
to visit one of her followers who had been recently 
taken ill, and being in great distress, had sent a ve- 
ry urgent request to the " Universal Friend" to 
come without delay. The two young women be- 
ing left alone a part of the time during Jemima's 
absence, had an ample opportunity of canvassing 
the merits of the business in which they were enga- 
ged. The one who was to have acted a subordi- 
nate part, represented to her companion in very 
-strong language, the impropriety of their conduct, 
und that for herself, she was determined to proceed 
no further in it. She also advisechher friend to 
desist immediately, and urged as a reason, the 
great danger she was in — that it was a most infa- 
mous imposture, and a horrible profanation — that 
it would be in no wise extraordinary if her Maker 
should be offended at such blasphemies, and strike 
her dead the moment her decease was announced 
abroad, and thus make a reality of that which 
they had intended only as an experiment upon the 
credulity of an innocent people. She urged also 
as another strong reason why there was more dan- 
ger in this mock tragedy than they had at first ima- 
gined, that if the cheat should be suspected, and 



s JEMIMA WILKINSON. &C9 

charged upon tliem, she would be sacrificed for the 
protection of the Friend's reputation, as she would 
sooner bury any one of her followers alive, than be 
detected in such an imposture, and that in this in- 
stance she could do it with impunity in case there 
should be danger of exposure. These arguments 
Xjdarmed the patient exceedingly, and if they did 
hot improve her health, they certainly cured her 
of ail inclination to be put into a coffin. 

After remaining a short time at the bed side of 
her follower, Jemima returned home full of anxie- 
ty for the success of her project, and determined 
that nothing should again divert her attention, for 
a moment, from a personal superintendance of the 
whole operation. Baton her arrival she found the 
measures, which she had concerted with so much 
skill ^nd care, for working one of the most won- 
derful miracles that ever was heard of, entirely 
deranged. She made an attempt, however, to 
mend matters, by endeavoring to reconcile her pa- 
tbent to continue the farce. But all to no purpose, 
she had become so thoroughly frightened with the 
idea of being laid out in the dress of a corpse, and 
put into a coffin, that the alternate threats and pro- 
mises which were liberally dealt out, produced no 
effect. Jemima was therefore obliged, though ve- 
ry reluctantly, to relinquish the hope of immortali- 
zing her name by restoring to life a dead body. 

Although she was under the absolute necessity 
of abandoning all hopes of success in the original 
project, yet she not only succeeded admirably in ex- 
tricating herself from the dilemma in which she 
was placed by her patient's refusal to die. but ac- 



169 EflSTORTTOF 

tually turned the affair to considerable account. — 
It had been announced during that afternoon, that, 
the ■young' lady was evidently very near her end, 
that she was helpless and speechless, and that there 
n as in reality no probability that she could live 
through the night. Several of the fclldwfcrs were 
collected at the Friend's house to enquire after the 
health of the young woman, and on being told 
that her case was considered hopeless, were ex- 
ceedingly sorrowful, and lamented the untimely 
fate of their dear sister, and likened her to a fra- 
grant flower cut down and withering e'er the sun 
of life had kiss'd from its bloom the morning clew 
of its existence. While they were thus mourning 
over the approaching fate of their companion, and 
gravely moralizing on the uncertainty of human 
life, and the fleeting vanity of all things beneath 
the sun, Jemima was xevy differently and more 
earnestly occupied. She was closeted uitli her 
patient, endeavoring, after she found there was no 
probability whatever of succeeding in the original 
project of raising the dead, to extort from the 
girl a promise of secrecy, and %o induce her to 
consent to be suddenly raised from a. bed of sick- 
ness to perfect health. She had become so much 
alarmed with her situation, that she hardly knew 
•what to do with herself, she abhorred the fraudu- 
lent enterprize in which she had been unwarily led 
to engage, and was determined to abandon Jemi- 
ma the first convenient opportunity. But as yet 
she was in her power, and durst not offend her for 
fear she might yet be sacrificed. She was also ex- 
iremply anxious to be discharged from her con- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. iSi 

fingmenf. which could not be done without Jemi- 
ma's consent. She therefore at length yielded a 
reluctant consent to be healed of her malady, and 
to keep secret the fact which Jemima was so anx- 
ious to conceal. Having thus happily succeeded 
in securing her retreat, Jemima immediately made 
preparation for healing her sick patient, which was, 
with all due form and solemnity, announced to the 
company present. The door of the pretended 
sick room being then thrown open, discovered a 
small table, on which was placed three candles, 
Jemima standing behind it and in front of the bed 
on which her patient quietly reposed, and so situa- 
ted that the audience could have but a very imper- 
fect view of any thing in the room but Jemima and 
the two sisters, to whom the secret had been confi- 
ded. Jemima commenced the ceremonies with a 
short exhortation, in which she descanted largely 
upon the fidelity, the virtues and piety of their 
suffering sister, the great loss her death would oc-\ 
casion to the Society, and how thankful they should 
all be in case the beloved could be restored to 
health, and required them to join with her in a fer- 
vent supplication to the Father, that the sick 
might be made whole. She then prayed for 
a considerable time with great earnestness, and 
ended with a petition that their dearly beloved, 
sick, and dying sister, might be immediately res- 
tored to health. Then turning to the bed she 
took hold of the young woman's hands, and raised 
her up to a sitting posture, and spoke to her, when 
to the astonishment of all present, she answered in 
o 2 



Lfi2 HISTORY OF 

a strong disiinct voice, and effectually convinced 
them that she was as well as any one of them. Je- 
mima then returned thanks for the sudden restora- 
tion of one of the Lambs of the flock, gave her vis- 
itors her blessing, and sent them home to their sup* 
pers. The next day many of the followers called 
to see the person who had been raised, as they 
supposed, from death's door, and to congratulate 
her on her speedy recovery. As Jemima would 
not permit her to see company out of her presence, 
there was no opportunity of any explanation ex- 
cept such as would continue the cheat, and the fol- 
lowers believing that she had been very sick, and 
now seeing her in perfect health, were ready to af- 
firm unequivocally that Jemima had performed a 
most wonderful miracle, and believed that thosa 
who denied the divinity of her person, and the re- 
ality of her miracles, were without the hope or pos- 
sibility of salvation. This performance was much 
better authenticated than the former one, and for a 
while gained her great credit with the members of 
the Society ; and the farce was performed with so 
much skill and address, and the reality of the mir- 
acle so vehemently and unanimously affirmed to 
by the followers, that an impression was made up- 
on lite minds of a few credulous persons, who soon 
after joined the Society. 

By this happy contrivance she not only extrica- 
ted herself from the most difficult and dangerous 
predicament hi which she had ever been placed, 
bat obtained new laurels to her earthly crown, by 
&dd?ng to her catalogue another most remarkable 

■; vtell aiith^uticatec! miracle, ft was firmly be 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 163 

lieved by all her folldwers, and by many others not 
doubted, that the girl had been at the point of 
death, and they all now saw her in the enjoyment 
of a full measure of health and strength, without 
exhibiting the least trace of the ravages of the ter- 
rible disease with which they supposed she had been 
recently afflicted. It was in their opinion, a mi- 
raculous recovery, produced not by the ordinary 
means of the healing art, nor by human agency, 
but by the immediate interposition of Almighty 
power, manifesting itself in the person of the "Uni- 
versal Friend of mankind," to convince an unbelie- 
ving world of the sanctity of her missjon and the 
divinity of her person. Those therefore, who still 
withheld their belief in these unhallowed pretences, 
were in the broad road to destruction, and those 
who were satisfied with the delusion, and were zeal- 
ous to spread the fame of the Friend, and the ac- 
count of her mighty doings, were sure of the re- 
wards which she never failed to promise to the 
faithful, and to those who should " persevere to the 
end." But the danger of detection from which Je- 
mima had so narrowly escaped, made a lasting im- 
pression upon her mind, and induced her to resolve 
never again to attempt a miracle. 

A very particular and most exaggerated account 
of this hypocritical farce was transmitted to the 
governess and leading members of the Society in 
Pennsylvania, which was read and listened to with 
extravagant admiration, by those confiding and 
deluded people. 

The effect produced by the receipt of this grate- 
ful intelligence was even greater than was aritlci- 



■»4 HISTORY OF 

pated by Jemima, and was sufficient to serve llie 
purposes of the holy sisterhood for a considerable 
time ; for the followers, by endeavoring to impose 
a belief in this miracle upon others, so committed 
themselves, as to the verity of the facfs and the un- 
doubted ability of their Idol to perform these won- 
ders, that they had no pretence ever after to ask 
her to undertake a like performance ; and she, re- 
membering the danger of detection to which she 
had been exposed in this instance, very prudently 
resolved never again to hazard her character and 
consequence by a further prosecution of this mira- 
cle-making business. 

Some time after, however, the whole mystery of 
this shallow cheat was unveiled, with a full dis- 
closure of all the circumstances attending it. On 
the discovery of the robbery of the Treasury, Jemi- 
ma fled from Rhode-Island with such precipita- 
tion, that die had neither time nor opportunity to 
give directions for the police and good government 
of the flock in her absence, but left the faithful to 
shift for themselves. The young woman whom Je- 
mima intended to have raised from the dead, in case 
she could have persuaded her to die, and upon 
whom this most invaluable miracle had been 
wrought, was now no longer under the controul of 
Jemima, and being left to the government of her- 
self, was one of the first to abandon all connexion 
with the remnant of this broken Society, and to ex- 
pose the cheats and mock mysteries by which their 
loving mistress had governed and fleeced her un- 
fortunate followers, and amoiig other things, gave 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 165 

a detailed account of the conduct of Jemima in re- 
lation to this pretended miracle. 

After succeeding in the establishment of her So- 
cieties in New-England, and securing an almost 
absolute controul of the members in respect to 
their spiritual concerns, Jemima began, very ear- 
ly, to evince a strong propensity to intermeddle 
in the direction and disposal of their temporal af- 
fairs. She found no difficulty in learning the se- 
cret history of every family to which any one of 
her followers belonged, and was always regularly 
informed of all incidents, which from time to 
time occurred in any part of the Society, which 
were carefully treasured up and held in reserve to 
be resorted to as occasion might require. The first 
and greatest object of her anxious cares was the 
accumulation of a fortune which should at once ren- 
der her independent of any contingencies which 
might happen to the Society, and the ordinary vi- 
cissitudes of human life, and enable her to main- 
tain that superiority in her style and equipage, to 
which her pride and ambition always* aspired. — - 
And although the professions, and probabh* the 
opinions, of Jemima, underwent many mutations 
and changes during her priesthood, yet, in this re- 
spect, she was always uniform ; her avarice increa- 
sed with her years, and continued until the close 
of her eventful career. 

Next to her ambition and zeal in the acquire- 
ment of wealth, she was distinguised by her con- 
stant assiduity in prying into, and endeavoring to 
controul, the private family concerns of her follow- 
ers ) and in early life arrogated to herself the right 



166 HISTORY OF 

of negociating or prohibiting matches among the 
younger members, in all cases giving or withhold- 
ing her consent, as should best suit her own inte- 
rested views. In these matters she became a most 
able and skilful manager ; she obtained the entire 
disposal of her unmarried followers, no one daring 
to contravene her injunctions, whatever violence 
their inclinations might suffer by a compliance. — 
But in respect to herself, she was far less fortunate. 
Unwilling to sacrifice her affections or her vanity 
wpon the altar of expediency, and being- unable 
to draw into her clutches any one to whom she 
would consent to surrender her independence, she 
was a long time tossed between hope and fear, and 
was alternately the victim of her inclinations and 
her pride. Although she found no difficulty m 
procuring husbands for her sisters, and other fe- 
male followers, yet every attempt to accommodate 
herself, was frustrated either by her owii self im- 
portance, or the inconstancy of her admirers. — 
That season of life in which she could reasonably 
expect to form an advantageous connexion was 
fast passing away — attentions from the other sex. 
to which she had long been accustomed, and which 
never failed to flatter her vanity, were gradually 
withdrawn, and she at length awakened to the mor- 
tifying reality that she was abandoned by all her 
acquaintance, excepting those deluded beings who 
had surrendered themselves entirely to her direc- 
tion, and whom she despised for that very weak- 
ness and folly which had rendered them subservi- 
ent to her authority. Her unfortunate acquain- 
tance with the British officer at New-port, §nd tk* 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. im 

fritter recollection of the consequences which result- 
ed from it, rankled in her breast, she became dis- 
gusted with the idea of matrimony, and finally, 
when all hope of an eligible settlement had fled for- 
ever, she made up her mind to remain single, and 
devote herself to the care and government of her 
flock. But she had no^ as yet, discovered that 
marriage was an enormous crime, the commission 
of which would subject its perpetrator to eternal 
misery. 

Sarah Richards, who has been already mention- 
ed as one of Jemima's followers, was an interesting 
and accomplished woman, and had more talent and 
address than any other member of the Society, 
and, saving the credit which Jemima had with her 
followers as their spiritual leader, she was in all 
respects her equal. Sarah had been reputably 
married, and had lived a short time very happily 
with her husband. But on the birth of her child, 
she had, through a painful and protracted illness, 
suffered almost every thing but death itself, and on 
her recovery, she made a most solemn vow, that she 
would never be the mother of another child. She 
afterwards abandoned her husband and joined her- 
self to Jemima's household, bringing her daughter 
Eliza with her, who was now about two years old, 

From the circumstances already related, it will 
appear, that both these women had, though from 
different motives, resolved on the same course of 
life. After becoming initiated into the mysteries 
of the sisterhood, Sarah Richards proposed the 
idea, of prohibiting matrimony among the follow- 
ers, to which Jemima readily asseuted, and this 



163 HISTORY OF 

new item was without delay, added to her creed, 
and preparations immediately made for promulga- 
ting it to the members of the Society. 

Jemima relied principally on the influence of her 
dreams and visions, and her authority over her 
people, for a compliance with this new requisition. 
In support of this doctrine, she quoted the 12th, 
1 3th and 1 5th verses of the 6th chapter of Romans, 
with many other passages of scripture, and cited 
the example of Sarah Richards, whom she repre- 
sented to them as a holy woman, who, on becom- 
ing acquainted with her duty to God, had left her 
husband and devoted herself to the service of the 
Lord, and the welfare of the Societ3 r . She repre- 
sented marriage as a foul stain upon the character 
of a professor of religion, and upon religion itself, 
and as an abomination which could net be indulg- 
ed in but at the hazard of eternal misery. She de- 
nied that it was an institution sanctioned by divine 
authority, or that it was consistent with the duty of 
man to his Maker. She said it was an invention 
of wicked men, for the purpose of enslaving the fe- 
male part of the creation, and seducing them from 
the paths of religion and their duty to the Lord, 
and that it must be renounced by every man and 
woman who hoped for salvation. She said, (to use 
her own words) that it was "thedamnabledoctrine 
of heresy, and came from the bottomless pit, whith- 
er all those would be sent who did not immediate- 
ly reject it." The introduction of this doctrine by 
Jemima, and the manner of enforcing it among her 
people, has been before mentioned ; we will there- 
for now proceed to take notice of the consequences 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 169 

arising from it, together with some anecdotes inti- 
mately connected with this part of her history. 

Deborah Wilkinson, Jemima's younger sister, 
was yet unmarried, #nd a mutual attachment existed 
"between her and a young man of the name of Ben- 
ajahBotsford, who occasionally paid herliis atten- 
tions ; and at the time that Jemima first publish- 
ed her interdict against matrimony, they were 
engaged, and expected soon to be married : But 
Jemima fulminated her anathemas with such vigor 
and authority, as to check the proceedings of the 
young couple, and to induce them for a while to lay 
aside all thoughts of a union. — They both belong- 
ed to the society, and being extremely unwilling 
to provoke the resentment of Jemima, or brave the 
censures of their fellow members, they agreed to 
give up all further thoughts of marriage and confine 
themselves to a mutual interchange of friendly sen- 
timents and kind offices, which they vainly ima- 
gined would secure their happiness through life. 

But the laws of nature were not thus to be trifled 
with; the spark of affection had been Jundled, and 
they soon found that all their efforts to repress its 
effects served but to light it into a flame which they 
could neither controul fior conceal. Jemima a- 
larmed at this backsliding in two of her favorite 
followers, and fearing that if they set at nought her 
'counsels and disobeyed her commands, her author- 
ity over the other members would be materially 
weakened, resolved upon a measure which, if suc- 
cessful, would gratify her spleen and secure the obe- 
dience of her followers; -and if uusuccess/ul, would 



170 HISTORY OF 

leave her where she began. This was to banish 
Botsford. She summoned him into her pres- 
ence, and read him a most terrible lecture on his 
fall from grace, and his disobedience of the com- 
mands of the Lord, reproached him with giving 
himself up to the dominion of the flesh and the ser- 
vice of the devil, and with attempting to allure to 
destruction one of the dearest lambs of the Lord's 
flock, and enjoined him in the most severe terms 
not to jeopardize the present and eternal welfare of 
both Deborah and himself. And as she had dis- 
covered that they would be in continual danger of 
committing the abominable crime of fejrnication, 
(for such she accounted all intercourse between hus- 
band and wife) unless they were separated until 
they could effectually subdue their unruly passions, 
she was under the necessity of directing him to 
leave the country and never return thither without 
her permission. She ordered him to start immedi- 
ately for Nova Scotia, and denounced against him 
the most tremendous curses in case he did not forth- 
with obey her commands. She insisted upon his 
taking up his cross and pursuing his journey with- 
out a murmur, and cautioned him not to loiter by 
the way, nor cast a longing, lingering look be- 
hind ; reminding him of the punishment inflicted 
upon Lot's wife for looking back when fleeing out 
of Sodom. 

Poor Botsford, who had been a Submissive sub- 
ject of Jemima, and was much esteemed by his fel- 
low members, now considered his doom as finally 
fixed. He had, therefore, nothing to do but to pack 
up his scanty wardrobe and commence his journey' 



JEMIMA WILKINSON, 17 i 

He pursued his way witfi^cheerful diligence, con- 
soling himself under his hard destiny, with the re- 
flection that he was fulfilling his duty, and with the 
hope that obedience and repentance would in time 
procure for him a full pardon and permission to re- 
turn to his native land. Deborah was much disap- 
pointed and distressed on learning the fate of Bots- 
ford ; she had a strong attachment for him, and had 
long been wavering between her allegiance to Je- 
mima and her affection for her lover. But seeing 
no prospect of mending matters by quarrelling with 
her sister, she silently acquiesced in the procedure 
and applied herself with increased assiduity in plea- 
sing and assisting Jemima. After the lapse of a- 
bout three years, Botsford obtained leave to return, 
upon the express condition, however, that he should 
make no farther advances in his courtship with 
Deborah : — But no sooner had they met again than 
the old flame burst forth with redoubled violence- 
Jemima, astonished and enraged at their temerity, 
summoned them into her presence, and gave them 
both a very angry and terrible scolding, threaten- 
ing them with the most dreadful punishments, both 
here and hereafter, if they disobeyed her com- 
mands, and declared that if they did marry she 
would cast them off forever, and would " never 
again speak to them, or of them, in time or eterni- 
ty." — After pronouncing this terrible malediction, 
she gave Botsford an abrupt and haughty dismis- 
sal, and ordered Deborah to her room. 

They removed to the Lake country along with 
their friends, where they were soon after married, 
which so enraged Jemima, that, in part fulfilment 



172 HISTORY OF 

of her threat, shtf refused during the residue oChet 
life to speak to them or mention them on any oc- 
casion whatever. 

Botsford died some years before Jemima. When 
on his death bed, his wife sent an earnest request to 
her sister, to visit them, with which Jemima reluc- 
tantly complied. There were several of the neigh- 
bours present to whom she delivered a short exhor- 
tation, but even under these distressing circum- 
stances she obstinately persevered in her refusal to 
speak to him, to mention his name, or even make 
any personal allusion to him. Although Jemima 
was of an implacable temper, and never forgave 
those who were so unfortunate as to fall under her 
displeasure, without the most humble and abject sub- 
missions, yet it can scarcely be believed that she had 
cherished her resentment against her sister and 
brother for so mnny years. It is much more prob- 
able that her unnatural treatment of them, on this 
occasion, arose from the recollection of the rash 
promise which, in a moment of passion, she had 
made them, and the vain hope that by perseverance 
she should convince her followers that her decrees 
were immutable, and that what" The Friend" had 
once spoken was unalterable. 

Although Jemima failed in many of her attempts 
to break up matches among the younger members 
of the Society, yet she succeeded in several instan- 
ces effectually to separate those who were bound 
together by the most ardent attachment. They ap- 
plied to her for permission to marry, and in the most 
humble terms besought her to have compassion on 
them and grant them a dispensation. But it was tone 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. If 3 

purpose that they pleaded their inability to coafonn 
to her precepts, the ardor of their attachments, or 
the distress they endured. In vain did they prom- 
ise the most faithful and constant obedience to ail 
her requirements, and entire devotion to the inter- 
ests of the Society. Their entreaties served only 
to harden her heart and render her the more deal to 
all their petitions ; for by asking her consent in the 
first instance, they plainly showed that they dtireU 
not to intermarry without it ; and it ttas a promi- 
nent trait in the character of this petty tyrant, ncv 
^er to yield a point, even of the smallest importance, 
in favor of any member of the Society, unless com- 
pelled by unavoidable necessity. 

Having represented matrimony to be unlawful, 
and inconsistent with the spirit and principles of 
religion, it became necessary, in order to be con- 
sistent in her mischief, not only to endeavor to pre- 
vent the union of her followers, but to attack, and 
if possib!e, ! separate those whohadbcen married pre* 
vious to their acquaintance with her. As this part 
of her scheme was more difficult and hazardous in 
the execution, she proceeded to the undertaking 
with corresponding intrepidity and impudence, an/1 
although she failed in a kw instances, yet a gener- 
al and cheerful compliance was yielded in many 
cases where both husband and wife were under her 
influence. But with those members who were con- 
nected in wedlock with "persons of the world.'* (a 
descriptive appellation given by Jemima to all who 
did not belong to her society) she found much dif- 
ficulty in enforcing a compliance with her require- 
p 2 



174 HISTORY OF 

rnents/anditi some instances rendered the Victims 
of her incantations the most miserable of human 
beings. Feeling the full force of all those natural 
and almost indissoluble ties which bind rational 
and accountable creatures to their families, and rela- 
tions, and connect them together in the social 
circle, on the one hand, and on the other, fearing 
the authority, and dreading the displeasure of a 
being whom they believed held a mysterious in- 
tercourse with the world of spirits, and was the a- 
gent of Almighty power, fears, doubts and diffi- 
culties presented themselves on all sides : hal- 
ting between two opinions, equally called upon 
to pursue, at the same time, two courses which 
led in opposite directions, and fearing to choose 
either, their struggles were long, painful and vi- 
olent. But the withering, the destroying influence 
of Jemima at length prevailed ; natural affec- 
tion was hurled from her throne, the ties of 
kindred severed, and the unhappy devotees " talcing 
up their cross" as they expressed it, abandoned 
their homes, their dearest connexions in life, and 
repaired to the standard of Jemima, and dedicated 
themselves to her service. — Knowing the weakness 
of our nature, and the instability of all those reso- 
lutions which are taken in violation of the strong- 
est affections which pervade the human breasts Je- 
mima lost no time in securing the conquests which 
she thus gained over these deluded and unhappy 
being*. Nor was this a difficult task. She had 
learned much of human nature, an 1 from long ex- 
perience and close attention, she readily understood 
iiio character of her new proselytes, the state of 
their minds, and the most effectual means of enga- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 175 

ging their affections and securing their confidence. 
She received them with a mixture of gracious con- 
descension and solemn dignity, and commended the 
zeal and faith which they had manifested in giving 
up the pleasures, the fashions and the follies of a 
wicked world, and devoting themselves to the ser- 
vice of their Lord. She treated them with kindness 
and indulgence, and exhorted them to wean them- 
selves from the objects of their former affections, 
which they had now left behind, and surrender 
themselves entirely to her guidance and direction, 
as the only means of escaping those terrible calam- 
ities which she denounced against all those who 
contemned her counsels and rejected her creed. — 
Her care and attentions were unremitted until she 
believed them so firmly fixed in the faith that there 
would be no danger of desertion, when they were 
necessarily neglected, in some measure, to enable 
her to bestow the same attentions on other new con- 
verts, while the strictness of her discipline was grad- 
ually increased. 

This change in her demeanor occasioned many 
to abandon her after an acquaintance of several 
years. But some few were so wrought upon by the 
various contrivances of their adroit governess, that 
nothing could ever after shake their confidence in 
the Friend, or awaken them to a sense of their du- 
ty to themselves or their families. One of the fol- 
lowers of this description was the wife of a respect- 
able merchant in Providence, who, during the ram- 
bles of Jemima in that neighbourhood, had become 
acquainted with her, listened to her new scheme of 
religion, and at length became so infatuated with 



176 HISTORY OF 

it, tl»at she abandoned her family and joined the 
Society, from which neither the solicitations of her 
friends, the cares of her family, nor the calls of duly, 
were ever able to detach her. There are, perhaps, 
but few instances to be found in modern history of 
a more fatal delusion than was evinced by this mis- 
guided fanatic. She had been married several 
years, was reputably connected, well provided for 
and surrounded by almost every object which couid 
render life comfortable and pleasant, and attach he** 
to her family, friends and society. Her husband 
had always treated her with the kindest indulgence, 
and since their union, had never remitted in these 
delicate attentions which had marked his earliest 
acquaintance with her, and their dwelling had 
been the seat of uninterrupted tranquility and hap- 
piness. But the destroyer came ; — a female ad- 
venturer, an itinerant dreamer and pretender to 
visions and revelations, with her wandering tribe, 
made her appearance, and alas, this fair picture of 
human felicity w r as soon changed to that of misery 
and despair. This deluded creature suddenly a- 
bandoned her home, joined the sisterhood, and 
shortly after accompanied Jemima in one of her 
rambles to Pennsylvania. 

This precipitate step produced a shock to the 
mind of her too fond husband, from the effects of 
which he never recovered. Seeing all his hopes of 
prosperity and happiness thus blasted, he gave him-> 
seff up a prey to grief, a settled and deep melan- 
choly succeeded, his health rapidly declined, and 
in less than a year after the commencement of his 
misfortunes, death closed the distressing scene. 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 177 

With the victim of Jemima's incantations it fared 
'out little better. She had been much flattered and 
caressed by her new friends as long as they enter- 
tained hopes of adding her husband to the Society, 
and his wealth to the common stock. But on lear- 
ning his fate, and seeing that there was no pros- 
pect of reaping any benefit from the adhesion of 
their new proselyte, those attentions by which she 
had been distinguished, and which had induced her 
to believe herself a person of consequence in the 
congregation of the faithful, were gradually with- 
dfflwn, end she was at length reduced to the dis- 
tressing alternative of departing the domicil of her 
friend, and seeking the means of her own support 
among strangers, or of taking her station in Jemi- 
ma's kitchen, as one of the domestics of the family. 
She preferred the latter, and here lingered out a 
short, degraded and miserable existence, forgotten 
by the friends of her youth, unheeded by her com- 
panions in disgrace, and despised and neglected by 
her unfeeling mistress, who had been the cause of 
her seduction, and the agent of the ruin of her fa- 
mily. 

Jemima's denunciations of matrimony, and the 
pains which she took, in all cases where her influ- 
ence afforded a prospect of success, to separate 
those who had been joined in wedlock previous to 
her acquaintance with them, and particularly 
where only one of the parties became a follower, 
constitute the most striking, and perhaps the most 
interesting part of her history : and when contras- 
ted with the assiduity with which she conducted the 
business of match-making in the early part of her 



178 HISTORY OP 

career, afford the strongest evidence of the hypo- 
crisy and falsehood of her pretensions to the char- 
acter of a prophet and teacher of religion. The at- 
tempts also, which she made, from time to time, to 
enforce a compliance with this part of her creed, 
produced many singular incidents, some of which 
were attended with circumstances of the most dis- 
tressing nature, while others were exceedingly a- 
musing in themselves, and tended much to the de- 
tection of the impostures which she attempted to 
practice upon her ignorant disciples. 

Jemima had made a strong impression upon the 
mind of a young woman of her neighbourhood, 
who occasionally attended her meetings, and who 
at length became a member of the Societ}'. This 
person had been married but a short time, was 
eligibly situated, happy in the domestic circle, and 
many years yet remained, in which it was reason- 
able to suppose, that circle might be extended. — 
The Friend professed the greatest regard for her 
eternal welfare, and constantly treated her with the 
most kindly attentions, and as she gradually stole 
upon the confidence and affections of her victim, 
she cautiously introduced, from time to time, the 
subject of the unlawfulness of marriage ; and when 
she thought herself entirely secure in her conquest, 
attempted to enforce upon her new convert an ob- 
servance of her decrees, and finally succeeded in 
convincing her that it was her duty to separate 
herself from her husband. But as she was ardent- 
ly attached to him and to her family, she request- 
ed permission still to reside with him, and Jemima 
entertaining strong hopes that he would also be- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 170 

Tome a member, gave her consent, upon condition 
that the non-intercourse act should be faithfully 
ried into execution. The husband of this wo- 
man possessed a sound understanding, mild temper, 
tind patient mind ; he was aware of the true charac- 
ter of Jemima and of the motives which govern- 
ed her conduct, and for some time had observed, 
with painful anxiety, the growing partiality of his 
wife for that deluded sect and its crafty leader, and 
began to entertain fears that, unless she could be 
weaned from her new attachments, the total ruin 
of his family was not far distant. Relying upon 
Jher prudence, the integrity of her heart, and the 
correctness of those principles in which she ha 1 
been educated, he had indulged her inclination to 
attend the Friend's meetings, and now discovered 
-her mind to be so deeply affected as to render un- 
safe <\uy sudden attempt to controul or dissipate her 
delusion. He therefore endeavored by persuasion, 
by the perusal of religious books and the exercise 
of reason, to dispel those mists by which her vision 
was obscured, and -to -shake her confidence in the 
perfection of her mistress, but went no further than 
an earnest request, in his attempts to prevent her 
from visiting the Friend, or attending her meet- 
ings. By these mild methods, he partially suc- 
ceeded in enlightening her mind. Her zeal became 
somewhat abated, her scruples on the subject of 
Jemima's prohibition, were in some measure remo- 
ved, and tranquility and domestic felicity again vis- 
ited their dwelling, and, in process of time, this in- 
teresting family received an addition to it* number* 
by the birth of a promising son. 



180 HISTORY OP 

Jemima had long rested in perfect security, as it 
respected the fidelity and devotion of this Woman, 
and the apparent acquiescence of the husband in 
the execution of her prohibitory decree, strengthen- 
ed her hopes of adding him to the number of her 
disciples. She was therefore not only disappoint* 
ed, but highly offended to find that her precepts 
had been disregarded. She visited the family some 
time after, with the intention of calling her follow- 
er to a severe account for her disobedience ; but 
finding her extremely debilitated, from a painful 
and* protracted illness, occasioned by a premature 
exposure to cold soon after the birth of herchild, 
she smothered her resentment and determined on 
pursuing more mild measures for reclaiming and 
restoring this wandering sheep to the true fold. 

During her gradual recovery, Jemima made her 
several visits, and represented to her the great enor- 
mity of the offence of which she had been guilty in 
neglecting the voice of wisdom and the counsels of 
the Friend j and that her late dangerous illness 
was a signal manifestation of the wrath of Heaven, 
upon those who sinned against light and knowl- 
edge, and that but for the mediation of the Friend, 
she could never have recovered. She therefore-, 
with many professions of love and affection for her 
dear soul, enjoined it upon her never to be guilty 
of the like offence again, assuring her at the samg 
time that her future and uninterrupted obedience 
was, the only condition upon which hel* pardon and 
restoration to health had been obtained, and that in 
case she should become the mother of another 
child, the period of its birth would inevitably b£ 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 181 

that of her death. These idle pretences, together 
with many other ghostly admonitions, being pres- 
sed upon the debilitated mind of this unhappy wo- 
man, made a deep impression, and at length recal- 
led in her those sentiments of respect for Jemima, 
and devotion to her cause, which she had formerly 
entertained. She received a full pardon in dive 
form from the^UniversalFriend, "renewed her faith, 
was restored to regular membership, and continu- 
ed a steadfast tad faithful disciple for more than 
two years. But the laws of nature and the decrees 
of fate are immutable, and the commands of Jemi- 
ma were again found insufficient to counteract the 
operations of the one, or prevent the fulfilment of 
the other. Her dear friend whose conversion and 
fidelity had cost her so much exertion, care anfl 
watchfulness, once more found herself in a ritua- 
tion, which, in due tim£, must expose her to the 
frowns and maledictions of Jemima. She was 
in great trouble, and remembering the condition 
upon which she had, on a former occasion, been 
pardoned, she resolved to repair to the "Universal 
Friend," and make a full and humble confession of 
all her sins, iu the hope of so far propitiating her 
mistress as to obtain some mitigation of punish- 
ment, if not aTull pardon ; and asked the opinion of 
her husband as to the propriety of the measure. But 
he had become sickened and disgusted with the 
frauds and hypocrisy practised by Jemima, and on 
learning the substance of hercommunicationsto his 
wife during her previous confinement, he blamed 
himself for not having long before prohibited all 
Q 



162 HISTORY OF 

intercourse between them. He \ery freely gave 
her his opinion, that Jemima was a vile impostor, 
had ruined many of her dupes, and that unless she 
abandoned the Society her destruction and the 
misery ef her family were certain ; and absolutely 
forbid her holding any further communion with 
them. She thereupon grew thoughtful and melan- 
choly, her appetite failed, her sleep was but a se- 
ries of broken slumbers and troubled dreams, and 
her husband soon became alarmed at the visible de- 
cline of her health. Knowing that it Was pretend- 
ed by the members of the Society that Jemima was 
acquainted with their secret thoughts, words and 
actions, and that his wife also was impressed with 
ihat belief, he enquired of her whether she would 
be satisfied that the Friend was an impostor in case 
it could be proved, in such a manner as would pre- 
clude the possibility of mistake 5 that this pretence 
was fahe, and that Jemima was as ignorant of 
their private family affairs as any other person -? to 
which she readily answered in the affirmative, be- 
lieving that such evidence could never be produced, 
und being at the same time determined, in case it 
ever should be furnished, to abandon her and the 
Society altogether. He then advised her to go 
and visit the Friend* but by rao means to mention 
lier situation, nor allude to the circumstances which 
Jiad occasioned her present anxiety, assuring her, 
that if Jemima was not> as had been often asserted, 
a vile impostor and hypocrite, she must be then in 
possession of these facts, and would immediately 
lake her to task for her disobedience; a moment's 
reflection convinced her of the propriety of this 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 183 

course, and she promised him that she would con- 
duct herself accordingly, On her arrival she found 
the friend paraded in her elbow chair, with two of 
her minions seated at a little distance, one on the 
right and the other on the left, and at the opposite 
side of the room three or four of her followers to 
whom she was giving audience. Jemima pointed 
to a chair, and the visitor being seated, a profound 
silence ensued for two or three minutes, when the 
former unbending a little from the stately gravity 
which she was accustomed to assume on the en- 
trance of visitors, addressed the other as follows,— 
" The Friend is very glad to see thee, it is nearly 
a fortnight since thee has been here, is thee well r" 
"Very well," answered the other. " Is the man 
that thee lives with ivell?^ Being answered in 
the affirmative, she proceeded, " thee must visit 
the Friend often, for thee knows the temptations to 
which. thee is exposed, and thy liability to go a- 
stray, and it is well to commune often with the 
Lord, that thee may be preserved from falling. — 
Thee has been once disobedient, and committed a 
very great crime, but the Lord has pardoned thee 
tipon condition that thee shall not again be guilty 
of the same offence." She continued her discourse 
for some time, and commended the penitence and 
reformation of her disciple, and the constancy and 
self-denial with which she had observed the pre- 



* Jemima would never mention husband on 
wife in her conversations with any person in rela- 
tion to their families, but always said "the man" 
«r "the woman, thee lives with." 



194 HISTORY OP 

cept^ of their religion, and adhered to the path of 
rectitude, since receiving her pardon ; she encour- 
aged her to persevere in the true faith, and contin- 
ue in the course she had pursued since her restora- 
tion to favour, for which she should receive the re- 
ward of tiie righteous. But in case she should a- 
gain fall from grace, and be guilty of bearing an- 
other child, she would be cast off forever without 
the possibility of pardon, and that from thenceforth 
the doors of mercy would be eternally closed a- 
gainst her. This lecture effectually opened the 
eye? of this deluded follower, and convinced her, 
that instead of knowing her secret thoughts and ac- 
tions, as she had falsely pretended, this impostor 
was as ignorant of her private conduct as any other 
woman in the neighbourhood ; and the reverence 
and veneration which she had before entertained 
for Jemima immediate!}' gave place to disgust and 
abhorence, insomuch that, as she afterwards decla- 
red, it was difficult for her to preserve that decorum 
and sedate deportment which the rules of good bree- 
ding required, during the residue of her visit. 

The fatal spell being once broken, she readily 
discovered an easy explanation of a multitude of 
circumstances which had before appeared myste- 
rious and unaccountable, and her greatest wonder 
now was, not that she had thus suddenly regained 
her reason, but that she had ever been deprived of 
it by those shallow artifices by which Jemima go- 
verned her vassals. On her return home she gave 
her husband a circumstantial account of her inter- 
view with the Friend, and acknowledged with tears 
of affection and gratitude, his kindness and care 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. l8o 

in extricating her from the toils of that unprinci- 
pled deceiver. 

From the circumstances which have been stated 
in relation to the operations of Jemima while she 
resided in Pennsylvania, it will be seen that her 
friend Mr. W. was probably one of the most obe- 
dient and devoted disciples in her whole train. His 
wife was an attendant at the meetings of the Soci- 
ety, and for several years had a high respect for the 
Friend, but was never fully convinced that she was 
the Messiah. But with all the respect of the one 
and devotion of the other, Jemima was never able 
to bring them to acknowledge practically, the un- 
lawfulness of their marriage contract, or that it 
was a crime for them to live together as husband 
land wife. Some time after the promulgation of 
Jemima's family interdict, Mrs; W. in defiance of 
her orders and in contempt of her authority, gave 
birth to a fine lovely daughter. This jealous and 
despotic ruler had taken unwearied pains to secure 
the entire acquiescence of this couple in all the re- 
quirements of her system of religion, as their ex- 
ample, whether of compliance or disobedience, 
would materially affect her authority over the oth- 
er members of the Society } and as they had al- 
ready four or five children, enough, as she thought, 
to satisfy them, she had flattered herself that they 
would not be guilty of an infraction of a decree, the 
observance of which, was of vital importance to the 
stability of her government. She was therefore 
much alarmed and highly enraged at this open 
contempt of one of the fundamental principles of 
her religion, from so dangerous a quarter, 
Q2 



186 HISTORY OF 

As soon as the mother was sufficiently recovered 
to be able to receive company, Jemima made them 
a visit, and took them severely to task for this 
criminal departure from the path of duty. She 
said they had broken the command of the Lord, 
had been guilty of a voluntary transgression, and 
had committed a most enormous sin, and that noth- 
ing but perpetual and sincere repentance, and fu- 
ture abstinence could ever atone for the guilt of 
this crime, or procure a pardon for the multiplied 
offences which she well knew they had committed. 
She told them that they ought to lament this deplor- 
able fall from grace as long as they lived, and as 
she foresaw that they would be again in danger of 
yielding to the like temptation, unless they had 
some striking memento constantly before^their eyes, 
she insisted on naming the child " Lamentation," 
that thereby its birth should be remembered, in all 
future time, as a cause of lamentation and grief to 
themselves and as an admonition to others. This 
absurd requirement was cheerfully acquiesced in by 
ihe^ father, and in compliance with his wishes, at 
length assented to by the mother, and the child was 
named accordingly. 

But the influence and authority of the Friend 
was insufficient to preserve her dear disciples from 
t repetition of the offence, as was proved by the 
birth of another daughter about two years after. 
Jemima had received notice of the approaching e- 
vent, from one of her runners, sometime before it 
happened, but postponed the expression of her dis- 
pleasure until the period of the mother's confine- 
ment, as the most favourable moment for making 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 187 

a lasting impression on her mind. She made her 
visit accordingly, armed with all the terrors of her 
indignation and wrath, and delivered a most vio- 
lent lecture upon the misdeeds of these two perse- 
vering sinners ; and ended with saying that it was 
" an abomination unto the Lord," and declared 
that the child should be named " Abomination" 
Jemima had, by this time, become so boisterous 
and abusive as to fatigue and offend the good wo- 
man, and the impudent attempt to stigmatise her 
innocent offspring by giving it such a barbarous 
name, outraged her feelings beyond endurance, and 
she desired Jemima to leave the house. " The 
Friend," finding she had gone rather too far, at- 
tempted to retrace her steps and bring the matter 
to an amicable conclusion. But the old lady had 
become heartily disgusted with her impertinent in- 
terference on the former occasion, and was very 
willing to come to an open rupture with her upon 
the first occasion that should present itself. She 
accused her of cruelty and malevolence in disturb- 
ing the quiet, and destroying the happiness of pri- 
vate families, and plainly told her that her whole 
scheme of religion was a mere system of imposition, 
fraud and avarice ; that her hostility to matrimony 
and the propogation of the human species was dic- 
tated by spleen and envy at the happiness which 
others enjoyed in the domestic circle, and which, 
but for her own misconduct in early life, she 
might undoubtedly have possessed in common 
with the rest of her sex : that notwithstanding all 
her pretences to purity, she was no better than she 
should be, as it respected her acquaintance with 



188 HISTORY OF 

men, and as she had no occasion for her company 
ordered her in the most peremptory manner, to go 
about her business and never show her detested 
face in her house again. 

This rebuff was delivered in sucli a resolute man- 
ner, and the immediate departure of Jemima was 
so vehemently insisted upon, that she was obliged 
to retreat without the ceremony of a parting fare- 
well, and what grieved her much more sorely, was 
that she saw no prospect of ever being able tore- 
gain her influence over this devoted family. 

Jemima had always been accustomed to deal out 
her anathemas with a most liberal hand, against 
those who offended her, or withdrew themselves 
from the Society. But in this instance she was ob- 
liged to hold her peace and smother her resent- 
ment. She Was known to be under so many obli- 
gations to this man, particularly for his assistance 
and hospitality, and in return for which, she had 
bestowed on him so many commendations, and for 
his piety and liberality in "lending to the Lord" 
had so often and so publicly held him up to the 
other members of the Societj', as an example wor- 
thy of all imitation, that she dared not to denounce 
vengeance against him, nor persevere in a quarrel 
with him or his family. He also had committed 
himself by defending his faith and justifying the 
conduct of the Friend, on so many and such pub- 
lic occasions, that he felt equally averse to the con- 
tinuance of a broil between her and his family ; and 
his wife, now considering herself independent of the 
superintending care and spiritual assistance of the 
woman she despised, was willing to forgive Jemi- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 189 

ma, and forget, if possible, the outrage which she 
had committed on tier feeling*, provided she should 
not again be subjected to the assaults of her inso- 
lence and malice. The matter therefore, by the 
common consent of all parties, went quietly to 
sleep, and the old gentleman adhered to the Socie- 
ty, in a state of passive membership, during the res- 
idue of his life ; and this crafty and politic manager, 
who could always accommodate her religion and 
morality to any circumstances which promised suc- 
cess to her enterprises, finding that she could not 
enforce their obedience to this favourite article of 
her creed, not only forgave him, unsolicited, this 
enormous and almost unpardonable sin, bat after- 
wards when the same offence was repeated, in the 
birth of their youngest child, she took good care 
to say nothing on the subject which would be likely 
to wound his feelings or offend his wife. But this 
instance of toleration was almost a solitary excep- 
tion to her general rule, and to this she was driven 
by necessity, which was the only law that ever con- 
trolled her conduct or limited her in the gratification 
of her desires. Every measure which was dictated 
by her caprice or avarice, however unimportant 
in itself, was prosecuted with the same energy and 
perseverance as if it had been an object of the great- 
est moment ; and her exertions in compelling the 
acquiescence and co-operation of her followers, 
were always continued until they were crowned 
with entire success, or met with a total defeat, — 
Her boldness and fortitude, or rather obstinacy 
form the most prominent trait in her character 



190 HISTORY OF 

and are strikingly illustrated in every important 
undertaking which marked her eventful career. 

In establishing a new system of religion, Jemima 
was particularly careful to imitate, as little as pos- 
sible, the forms and ceremonies of every sect and 
denomination of Christians. She never adopted 
any regular code of ordinances for the temporal 
government and discipline of her flock— whether 
she found a difficulty in framing any set of rules 
for this purpose, without copying after some other 
system, and thereby forfeiting her claim to origin- 
ality, or whether she chose to make her trill ihte 
law of the Society, and to subject the members to 
the domination of her capricious mind, is uncertain ; 
but it is well known that she issued her commands 
to her followers, rewarded some and punished oth- 
ers, and dispensed threats and promises from time 
to time, as circumstances occurred, without regard 
ft) precedents, and without the aid of any general 
rules whereby the members could regulate their de- 
portment. The summary manner in which she 
exercised her authority, and the tame submis- 
sion of her people, secured her against the charge 
of partiality ; for if any one complained of her 
tyranny and oppressions, (which rarely ever hap- 
pened,) they w 7 ere sure to be answered, " It is the 
will of the Universal Friend," and there the matter 
ended ; for she would never condescend to explain 
the reasons of her conduct, nor suffer others to do 
it for her. It was her prerogative to give orders and 
directions, and their business to obey them, and in 
process of time these principles, being reduced to 
practice, and sanctioned by long and uninterrupted 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 191 

usage, and the common consent of all parties con- 
cerned, became at length a law to the members, and 
the only basis upon which the secular government 
of the Society rested. 

The administration of their spiritual affairs was 
regulated much after the same manner. Jemima 
published certain directions for the government of 
the religious conduct and communion of her follow- 
ers, and although this was done by way of advice, 
yet a most scrupulous and conscientious obedience 
was always exacted. These admonitions also va- 
ried from time to time, according to the several mu- 
tations which her system underwent, and the mood 
in which she happened to be, or the interested mo- 
tives by which she might be governed, at the mo- 
ment of dispensing them. That part of her advice 
in which she was most uniform and consistent, and 
which seems to have been the most disinterested., 
was the following : — 

" The Public Universal Friend adviseth all who 
desire to be one with the Friend in spirit, and wise 
unto salvation, that they be punctual in attending 
meetings, as many as conveniently can ; that they 
meet together at the tenth hour of the day, as near 
as may be : that those who cannot well go to meet- 
ings sit down at their several homes about the time 
meeting begins, in order to wait for £nd upon the 
Lord; that they shun, at all times, the company of 
the wicked world, as much as possible $ and when 
any of you are under a necessity of being with 
tbem, that you do your business with few Words, 
and retire from them as soon as you can get your 
business done; remembering to keep on your w?.tcb ; 



192 HISTORY OF 

and pray for assistance, especially when the wicked 
are before you ; that you do not enquire after the 
news or public reports of any one, and be careful 
not to spread any yourselves that is not of the Lord ; 
that you deal justly with all men. and do unto all 
men as you would be willing they should do unto 
you ; and walk orderly that none occasion of stum* 
bling be given by you to any ; do good unto all 
as you have opportunity, especially to the house- 
hold of faith ; live peaceably with all men, as much 
as possible •; in a special manner do not strive a- 
gainst one another for mastery, but all of you keep 
your ranks in righteousness, and let not one thrust 
another; let not debate, evil surmisings, jealou- 
sies, evil speaking or hard thinking, be named a- 
raong 3'ou, but be at peace among yourselves ; take 
up your daily cross against all ungodliness and 
worldly lusts, and live as you would be willing to 
die, loving one another^ forgiving one another as 
ye desire to be forgiven by God and the Holy One. 
Obey and practise the divine counsel ye have heard, 
or may hear, from time to time, living every day 
as if it were the last, remembering you are always 
in the presence of the high and lofty One who in- 
habiteth eternity, whose ixame is Holy ; and with- 
out holiness no man shall see the Lord in peace. — 
Ye are to shun the very appearance of evil in 
all thiugs, as foolish talking and vain jesting, with 
all unprofitable conversation, which is not conveni- 
ent, but fiee from bad company as from a serpent ; 
and be not drunk with wine or any other spiritu- 
ous liquors wherein is excess. And when you 
come into meetings or evening sittings, make af; 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 193 

little stir as possible, that you may not disturb the 
solemn meditations of others. — And endeavor to 
meet all at one time, and keep your seats until 
meeting is over, except on some extraordinary oc- 
casions. Use plainness of speech and apparel, and 
let your adorning not be outward, but inward; and 
follow not after the follies and fashions of a wicked 
world, which lead down to the bottomless pit ; but 
"keep yourselves a separate and distinct people, 
even as ye are, the chosen of the Lord." 

To conform to these directions, and such others 
as she occasionally gave them, and above all, to 
" render unto Ceesar die things that are Caesar's," 
and yield obedience to aU her commands, was the 
great duty which her religion enjoined upon her 
followers, and the fulfilment of which would, as she 
taught them to believe, entitle them to eternal hap- 
piness. She rejected the sacraments, and almost 
all the doctrines, rites and ceremonies which are 
acknowledged or practised by the christian churck 
She said that " baptism as now used m the world, 
is altogether wrong, that there is but one baptism, 
that of John, which is preparatory to the coming of 
a greater than him." No singing or melodies were 
allowed in her meetings, and instead of cultivating 
a cheerful or lively expression of the feelings of pi- 
ety and devotion, a surly gravity and mysterious 
gloom was inculcated, and during their hours of 
worship her congregation exhibited a group of the 
most devout looking faces that can well be ima- 
gined. 

The most profound attention \yas always paid to 

R 



in HISTORY OF 

the exercises, which consisted in exhortations, lec- 
tures and preaching, and in the early part of her 
ministry prayers also were used. But the form and 
substance of the latter were said to be peculiar to 
herself, and somewhat resembled conversations 
with an invisible person, on the subject of her reli- 
gion, the faith of her followers, and the welfare of 
the Society. But in all her prayers, or whatever 
else they might be called, she never alluded to Je- 
sus Christ as a mediator, but frequently mentioned 
the "Father and the Holy one/' and " God and 
his Holy One" — and whenever she expressed any 
tiling like a petition, it was addressed to God " for 
the sake of the Lamb which was slain. " But for 
many years previous to her death she laid aside this 
part of public worship altogether, and some who 
were well acquainted with her supposed that prayer 
had never formed a part of her religious exercises. 
Her preaching consisted chiefly of quotations from 
scripture, interlarded with a few select sentences and 
excogitated phrases which she had prepared for the 
purpose, and which were always at her command. 
She had committed almost the whole of the Bible 
to memory, and on the slightest allusion being made 
to any part of it, she would repeat the language 
correctly and without the least hesitation. She was 
therefore always supplied with matter and lan- 
guage for her sermons, and but for the fatigue of 
talking, could as well preach a whole da}' as half 
an hour. The following extractcomprisesthe form 
and substance, as well as can be recollected, 
of one of her discourses, and as they were all very 
nearly alike, this, with a few variations, may be 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 195 

considered a tolerable specimen of her whole sys- 
tem of sermonising. 

11 My beloved friends, on meeting together again 
to hear the word of the Lord and meditate on his 
goodness and gracious promises to the faithful, it 
behoves you to gather in your wandering thoughts, 
that you may sit down in solemn silence, and wait 
for the aid and assistance of the Holy Spirit, that ye 
may worship God and his Holy One in spirit and 
in truth, and in a meek and quiet spirit, which is in 
the sight of God of great price, as saith the Psalm- 
ist, it is most like the King's daughter, who is all 
glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold.— 
Consider how great a thing it is to worship God 
and the Lamb acceptably, who is a spirit and must 
be worshipped in spirit and hi truth. Therefore 
deceive not yourselves by indulging drowsiness or 
other mockery, instead of worshipping God and the 
Lamb. God is not mocked, for such as each of ye 
sow the same ye must also reap ; if ye sow to the 
flesh, ye must of the flesh reap corruption ; but if 
ye are so wise as to sow to the spirit, ye will, of the 
spirit, reap life everlasting. For to be carnally 
minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life 
and peace ; because the carnal mind is enmity a- 
gainst God, for it is not subject to the law of God, 
neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the 
flesh cannot please God ; but ye are not in the flesh, 
but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God 
dwell in you. For if ye live after tbe flesh, ye shall 
die; but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds 
of the body, ye shall live ;. for as many as are led 
by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God.— 



196 HISTORY OF 

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage a* 
gain to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adop- 
tion, whereby ye cry Abba Father. Ye cannot be 
my friends except ye do whatsoever I command 
yon ; therefore be not weary in well doing, for in 
due season ye shall reap if ye faint not. Those whose 
months have been opened to speak or pray in pub- 
lic, are to wait for the movings of the Holy Spirit, 
and then speak or pray as the Spirit givetb utter- 
ance, not running without divine authority, nor 
speak nor pray any longer than the Spirit remains 
with you, nor linger when moved to speak, as mouth 
for the Holy One, or moved to pray with the Holy 
Spirit, that all contention, strife, confusion, jarring 
m wrong speaking, may have no place among you ; 
lie* use any whispering among any of you, for 
whisperers separate chief friends. That above all, 
ye give all diligence to make your calling and e- 
lection sure, and work out your salvation with fear 
and trembling, redeeming your time, because the 
Jays are evil. That ye maybe found without spot 
or rebuke before the Lord ; that ye may be deliv- 
ered from the bondage of corruption, and brought 
into -the glorious liberty of the sons of God, where 
the morning stars sing for joy, and all the sons of 
God shout for joy, having oil in your vessels, with 
your lamps, like the wise virgins' trimmed and bur- 
ning, having on your wedding garments, that when 
the Holy One ceaseth to intercede for this dying 
world, you may also appear with him in glory. — 
Ye who are parents, or intrusted with the tuition of 
children, consider your calling and the charge com- 
mitted unto you, and be careful to bring them up 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 197 

in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and ed- 
ucate them in a just and reverent regard thereto. — 
And whilst you are careful to provide for the sup- 
port of their bodies, do not forget the welfare of 
their souls, seeing the earliest impressions in gene- 
ral last the longest ; as it is written, train up a child 
in the way he should go, and when he is old he will 
not easily depart from it ; and let your examples 
teach as loud as your precepts. Children, obey 
your parents in all things in the Lord, for this is 
right and acceptable in the sight of God ; and hon- 
or your father and your mother, and the way to 
honor father and mother is, not to give them flat- 
tering titles or vain compliments, but obey the coun- 
sel of the Lord, and obey them in the Lord. As 
saith the wisdom of the Lord by the mouth of the 
wise king Solomon, my son forget not my law, but 
let thine heart keep my commandments, for length 
of days, long life and peace shall they add to thee. 
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee, bind them a- 
bout thy neck, write them upon the table of thine 
heart ; so shall thee find favour and good under* 
standing in the sight of God and man. Trust in 
the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine 
own understanding ; in all thy ways acknowledge 
him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise 
in thine own eyes, but listen to the counsel of the 
4 Universal Friend,' and fear the Lord and depart 
from evil. Hear ye children the instruction of a 
father, and attend to know understanding, fori give 
you good doctrine, — forsake ye not my law 7 . The 
fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but 
r 2 



198 HISTORY OF 

fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son hear 
ihe instruction of thy father and forsake not the law 
of thy mother, for they shall be an ornament of 
grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. — 
My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not; if 
they say come let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk 
privily for the innocent without cause, kt us swal- 
low them up alive as the grave, and whole as those 
that go down into the pit, we shall find all precious 
substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil ; cast 
in thy lot among us, let -us all have one purse — my 
son walk not thou in the way with them, refrain thy 
foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and 
they make haste to shed blood. They lay wait for 
their own blood. They lurk privily for their own 
lives; so is every one that is greedy of gain, that 
taketh away the lives of the owners thereof. And 
all of you be careful not to grieve away the Holy 
Spirit that is striving with you in this your day of 
visitation, and setting your sins and short comings 
in order before you ; but tarn ye at the reproofs of 
instruction, which is the way to life. 

"Masters, give unto your servants that which is 
lawful and right, and deal with other people's chiK 
uren as you would be willing others shoulcj deal 
with you and your children also in your absence ; 
knowing that whatsoever ye would that others do 
unto you, ye ought to do likewise unto them, for 
this is the law and the prophets. Servants be obe- 
dient unto your masters according to the flesh, in 
singleness of heart, with fear and trembling, with 
good will doing service as unto the Lord, and not 
nnto man, knowing that whatsoever good thing any 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 199 

man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, 
whether he be bond or free. And you masters do 
the same things unto them, forbearing threatening, 
knowing that your master also is in Heaven. Nei- 
ther is there respect of persons with him, but he is 
merciful and kind, even to the unthankful and to 
the evil. Therefore be ye wise in this your day 
and generation, be ye holy in all your walk and 
conversation, and all you men and women, that de- 
sire to be one with the Friend, and obedient unto 
the Lord, keep yourselves separate, and unspotted 
from the world, and from each other ; and possess 
your vessels in sanctification and honor, knowing 
that ye ought to be temples for the Holy Spirit to 
dwell in; and if your vessels are unclean, that which 
is holy cannot dwell in you, and ye are yet in a 
reprobate state and out of favour with God and hi& 
Holy One. 

" And think ye not to excuse yourselves foryour 
disobedience, because, after the manner of a wicked 
world, ye have been joined together, according to 
the laws and fashions of men, for these are the in- 
ventions of the devil, and lead down to the bottom- 
less pit, from whence they came ; and thither shall 
all they go who yield themselves willingly to seduc- 
tion, to depart from the truth, the way and the life. 
Obey God, and not man, for vain is the help of man, 
yet God is able to save all those who obey his word. 
And know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves 
servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye 
obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience 
unto righteousness : — I speak after the manner of 
men, because of tlie infirmity of your flesh ; for as 



200 HISTORY OF 

ye have yielded your members servants to unclean- 
ness, and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now 
yield your members servants to righteousness unto 
holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin ye 
were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye 
then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed, 
for the end of those things is death. Let not sin 
therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should 
obey it in the lusts thereof; neither yield ye your 
members as instruments of unrighteousness unto 
sin ; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that 
are alive from the dead, and your members as in- 
struments of righteousness unto God. Be meek 
and humble, and strive not with the world, nor 
with one another, but be in peace all of you one 
with another always ; seek not for the distinctions 
nor the honors of the wicked, nor strive for the mas- 
tery, nor think vainly of yourselves, nor attempt to 
lead others in Society or teach them,but with hu- 
militylisten tothe counsel of the 'Universal Friend, 
and obey the voice of the Lord. And all of you 
who have been or may be so divinely favoured as 
%o be mouth to the Holy One, I entreat you all in 
the bonds of love that when you are moved upon to 
speak in public as the oracles of God, that you 
speak as the Holy Spirit giveth utterance, not with- 
holding more than is meet, which tendeth to pover- 
ty, neither add thou to his words lest he reprove 
thee, and thou be found a liar : but do all with a sin- 
gle eye to the glory of God, that God and the 
Lamb may be glorified by you and through you. 
For he that winneth souls is wise, and the wise 
shall shine as the brightness of the firmament j and 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 201 

they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars 
forever and ever. The time is fulfilled, the king- 
dom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the 
gospel, that the kingdom of God may begin within 
3 r ou. He hath showed thee O man, what is good ; 
and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do 
justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God." 

The foregoing constituted the principal ground 
work of all her preaching, and the substance of her 
discourses ; and by being varied and repeated 
scores of times, and incorporated with such reflec- 
tions as the particular occasion called for, together 
with the relation of three or four dveams and as ma- 
ny visions, generally made a sermon which occu- 
pied from two to three hours in the delivery. 

Iu her public discourses she seldom mentioned' 
her prohibition of matrimony in positive terms; but 
her allusions to this subject, on such occasions were 
distant and indirect, and couched in such general 
terms as to leave the auditor in doubt whether she 
intended it as a part of her system of religion. But 
in her private interviews with the faithful, and in 
her conversations with visitors, she strenuously in- 
sisted upon this point as one of the essentials in re- 
ligion, which could not be dispensed with. She 
said that men were theauthors of sin,* and the means 
of perpetuating it on the earth ; that the miseries to 
which mankind are subjected in this world, and the 
punishments which are reserved for the wicked in 



* To prove this she quoted Romans, 5th, 12th — 
u Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the 
world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upo$ 
all men, for that all have sinned." 



202 HISTORY OF 

the next, are all to be charged to their account ; 
and that it would have been far better for the hu- 
man race if they had been all females, and men had 
never been created ; that there was no neces- 
sity for their existence, and when sent into the 
world, they were always engaged in wrangles, strife 
and war, and that all the innumerable murders 
which have been committed since the world began, 
were attributable to them. And when it was re- 
marked to her that the existence and union of the 
two sexes constituted the appointed means for the 
perpetuation of the human species, she replied that 
a better method might have been devised, and al- 
luded to the incarnation of Jesus Christ w at his 
first appearance upon the earth," as a mode alto- 
gether preferable to that which is now practised 
in the world. She said that should her doctrines 
in this respect prevail throughout the earth, the 
means would be provided for continuing a succes- 
sion of the inhabitants thereof, as long as that should 
be necessary to the accomplishment of the great 
purposes for which man was created, 

The style of her epistolary writing was much the 
same with that of her preaching, consisting princi- 
pally of quotations from scripture, irregularly 
strung together, without method or meaning, and 
having no direct application to the circumstances 
which were- the pretended objects of her corres- 
pondence. We give a short extract of a letter da- 
ted " Stonington, 8th month, 1787" — written by 
Jemima's chief scribe, and by her direction, to one 
of the principal members of the Society at Worces- 
ter, in Pennsylvania, which may serve as a pretty 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 203 

good sample of the manner of her letter writing. — 
After a few words in relation to some matter of bu- 
siness, the writer breaks out into the following 
strain : — 

* " The greatest of all is the 

one thing needful, to make our calling and elec- 
tion sure; this I pray thee may not neglect ; he that 
holds out to the end the same shall be saved, saith 
the Lord ; keep in the valley of humiliation with a 
broken heart and melted spirit, such a sacrifice will 
not be despised ; thy gentleness hath made me 
great, and I hope D**** will prove it true by ex- 
perience ; it is a day of trouble, but don't faint in 
the day of adversity and prove thyself to be small ; 
what I say to one I say to all friends ; watch and 
pray that ye enter not into temptation ; my spirit 
runs much towards all friends in Pennsylvania ; I 
long to see you that we may be strengthened by 
the mutual faith both of you and me, and built up 
in the most holy faith, that works by love and pu- 
rifies the heart ; I feel much love to all friends a- 
mong you, and desire thee to bear it to them from 
me. What I write is from the heart, it is real and 
not feigned. Only rebel not against the Lord, and 
we shall ever come through him. He knows in 
whose heart his divine love is, and who obey his 
counsel. Let every one see this as though it was 
directed to them. O, press forward all cf you with 
the word of the Lord in your mouth, and a two 
edged sword in your right hand. Above all have 
fervent charity for one another; in honor prefer one 
another; let each esteem another better than him- 
self, let the stronger bear the infirmities of the weak- 



204 HISTORY OF 

er, and not please themselves but each please his 
neighbour, to the good of edification ;*and so run as 
to obtain ; let patience have her perfect work, that 
ye may be perfect, entire lacking nothing ; so pray** 
eth your true friend. When I forget thee O Jeru- 
salem, my right hand will forget her cunning. I 
prefer the peace of Jerusalem above my chiefest joys; 
Icharge you,0 daughters of Jerusalem, not to stir 
up, nor awake, or grieve away my beloved 4 until he 
pleases. Peace be unto you 5 peace in believing, 
and joy in the Holy Ghost ; let this be your case, 
that we may meet in that house not made with 
hands, eternal in the heavens, and be enfolded in 
the bosom of love and delight, and reign with the 
Lamb forever and ever." 

It has been supposed by many persons who were 
well acquainted with Jemima, that she was sincere 
in her professions and declarations in relation to 
herself aud her religion, and that she believed she 
was actually commissioned by divine authority to 
superintend the spiritual concerns of mankind, and 
to correct the errors of the present age. That be- 
ing led astray in early life, by a religious frenzy, 
and not having the benefit of proper advice and in- 
struction, while laboring under the first impressions 
of seriousness, she fell into, and settled down with, 
those errors and absurdities which characterised 
her ministry, and that in process of time she be- 
came confirmed in the belief of the truth of her doc- 
trines, and the correctness of that course which she 
pursued during the residue of her life 

Those who have adopted this opinion concerning 
Jemima, suppose it possible that by silently pursiv- 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 20£ 

nig an irregular train of thought, on the subject of 
religion, unassisted by the light of experience, and 
the instruction cf wisdom, a young and ardent 
mind may become so bewildered in the intricate 
mazes of doubt and difficulty, to which it is but too 
often exposed, as to produce an alftiost entire de- 
rangement of the reasoning faculties, in relation to 
that particular subject ; and finally become so far 
the victim of fanaticism and self delusion as to mis- 
take the idle dreams of its own fancy and the wan- 
derings of a diseased imagination-, for heavenly in- 
spirations and communications from the Almighty. 
They suppose, also, that this species of delu- 
sion may some times exist in those whose mental 
perceptions, upon eviery other subject excepting 
that of religion $ are as clear and distinct as those of 
any other person. By this mode of reasoning they 
have persuaded themselves that Jemima Wilkinson 
was an unfortunate fanatic, who, being in the first 
place ensnared in the absurd system which she pro- 
mulgated, afterwards became the innocent cause of 
deceiving others. And the many unaccountable 
circumstances and inconsistencies which marked 
her public career, the incoherent manner of her 
preaching and the style of her correspondence with 
her followers, and above all, her perseverance in 
the same system to the end of her life 3 seem almost 
to justify this charitable conclusion. But those 
who know enough of her private history to be a- 
ble to judge of the motives which governed her con- 
duct, entertained very different sentiments respect- 
ing her. In their opinion it is a violation of every 

B 



206 HISTORY OF 

rule of evidence by which the truth is most likely 
to be discovered, to suppose that she did not know 
with as much certainty as any other person, that 
she was simply Miss Jemima Wilkinson, and that 
she did not die and rise again from the dead in the 
year 1176, That she must have known, also, that 
she did not possess the power of discovering the se- 
cret thoughts of others, nor of healing the sick, 
nor of raising the dead. Common sense instant- 
ly rejects the idea that she could ever have so far 
etupffied herself as not to remember her origin and 
family, and that she was neither more nor less than 
a mere woman. These were points upon which 
she could not, by any possibilitj', make a mistake 5 
and yet it is a matter of public notoriety in the 
neighbourhood of her residence in the state of 
Rhode Island, in Pennsylvania and in Ontario 
County, that she denied her family, her name$ 
and her kindred, and laid claim to attributes, pow- 
er and authority which appertain to no human be- 
ing. Here arises the great difficulty in reconciling 
the extravagant accounts which she, and others by 
her direction, have, at various times and on divers 
occasions^ given concerning her character and per- 
son, with the idea of her having been an unfor- 
tunate enthusiast who was deluded into the belief 
that the part she acted was a conscientious discharge 
of her duty to mankind. 

And yet strange and unaccountable as it may 
appear, she persevered in her pretensions to the end 
of her life, as will appear from a perusal of her 
Will, wherein she describes herself as having been 
Called Jemima Wilkinson, in the year 1776, " and 



JEMIMA WILKINSON. 201 

ever since that time the Universal Friend, a new 
name which the month of the Lord hath named." Her 
care and anxiety respecting her property also, end- 
ed only with her days. Her relations andconnexions 
are numerous, some of whom stand in much need of 
that assistance which a participation in her bounty 
might have afforded ; but none of them are mention- 
ed, or even alluded to, in her Will. Indeed, it was 
not in the power of Jemima to make any provision 
for them without virtually acknowledging her kin- 
dred, and thereby undermining the base upon which 
she had reared the fabric of her religion. 

Jemima was engaged in what she termed her 
" ministry," from the close of the year 1776, until 
July, 1819, when she closed her earthly career, at 
the advanced age of 68 years. 

In contemplating the career of this extraordinary 
personage, there is in the minds of many, some 
difficulty in determining her true character. Her 
life, conduct and professions present a chapter of 
contradictions, and a series of gross absurdities. 
Her followers believe her tobe their saviour; many 
charitably disposed persons are of the opinion that 
she laboured under a partial mental derangement, 
and was herself the victim of an unfortunate delu- 
sion by which she was deceived into the belief, 
that she was constituted, by divine appointment, a 
special messenger of grace and mercy to a lost and 
dying world ; others there are, and by far the great- 
er number of those that knew her, who believe 
her to have been a canting hypocrite, pretending to 
a character which she knew she did not possess, 



208 HISTORY OF, &€. 

and that the principal object of all her labours was 
to secure the means of gratifying her own appetites. 
— The first supposition cannot be true ; the second 
is possible, and the last probable. But it is the bu- 
siness of History to record facts, and the privilege 
of the reader to draw his own conclusion. 



There are sundry publications respecting Jemi- 
ma Wilkinson, which made their appearance in 
different places and at various periods during her 
life, and one or two since her death, which, as they 
show what opinions were entertained concerning 
her by different writers, it has been thought advis- 
able to republish them in an Appendix to her His- 

torv. 

%/ 

No. I, — Is contained in Hannah Adams' " View 
of Religions" published in 1801. 

No. II, — Is extracted from u Marshall 9 s Cate- 
chism, 99 published in 1802. 

No. Ill, — Is from a work endued " Eccentric 
Biography, or Memoirs of remarkable Female char- 
acters, ancient and modem, 99 published in 1804. 

No. IV", — Is from a series of " Original Letters 
from the interior of the State of New-York, 99 and 
made its appearance in the " Balance and State 
Journal," of March, 1811. 

No. V, — Contains two communications, which 
appeared in the " Pittsburgh Mercury" in 1819, a 
short time after the death of Jemima. 

pjfo, VI — Is « The last Will and Testament of 
the person called the Universal Friend" 



APPENDIX. 

NO. I. 

" There were also a few persons in Rhode-Island 
who adhered to Jemima Wilkinson, who was born 
in Cumberland. It is said by those who were Ul- 
timately acquainted with her, that she asserted, that 
in October, 1776, she was taken sick, and actual- 
ly died, and her soul went to Heaven, where it still 
continues. Soon after, her body was reanimated 
with the spirit and power of Christ, upon which she 
set up as a public teacher ; and declared she had 
an immediate revelation for all she delivered, and 
was arrived to a state of absolute perfection. It is 
also said, she pretended to foretel future events, to 
discern the secrets of the heart, and to have the pow- 
er of healing diseases : and if any person, who had 
made application to her, was not healed, she attri- 
buted it to his want of faith. She asserted that 
those who refused to believe these exalted things 
concerning her, will be in the state of the unbeliev- 
ing Jews, who rejected the counsel of God against 
themselves; and she told her hearers, that was the 
eleventh hour, and that the last call of mercy that 
ever should be granted them : for she heard an in- 
quiry in Heaven, saying, 6i Who will go and preach 
to a dying world ??' or words to tliat import : and 
she said she answered,/' Here am I, send me;" and 
that she left the realms of light and glory, and the 
company of the Heavenly host, who are continu- 
ally praising and worshiping God, m order to 
descend upon earth, and pass through many suffer- 
ings and trials for the happiness of mankind. She 
s2L 



ii APPENDIX. 

assumed the title of the Universal Friend of Man- 
kind; hence her followers distinguish themselves 
by the name of Friends.* 

"Jemima Wilkinson went to Geneva, in the Gen- 
esee country ; and her followers have fallen off so 
as not to keep up any meetings in this state." 



I NO. II. 

" Universal Friend, is the title assumed by Je- 
mima Wilkinson, who was born in Rhode-Island. 
She says, that in the year 1776, being sixteen years 
of age, she died, and when about to be buried, she 
was again quickened by a power from above, but 
not by her own soul, which, she says, is yet in 
Heaven. She says she then received a commission 
to preach. She tells her hearers that this is the 
eleventh hour, the last call of mercy ; and that those 
who will not believe the exalted things she says of 
herself, will be in the state of the unbelieving Jews, 
who neglected the counsel of God against them- 
selves. She pretends to immediate revelation of 
all which she delivers ; and that she has arrived at 
a state of absolute perfection. 

iS When she left her situation above Germantown, 
near Philadelphia, where she resided for some 

* The Duke of Rochefoucault, in his travels in the 
United States of America, in 179G and 1797, met 
with Jemima Wilkinson, in the state of New-York. 
He describes her to be a beautiful but artful woman. 
She however, experienced a very unfavourable re- 
ception for herself and her doctrines, both in Phi- 
ladelphia and New-York; though in the latter coun- 
try she made some converts. 



APPENDIX. iii 

years, she emigrated to Genesee, in the state of 
New-York. Here she gave out that she was the 
woman to whom were given two ivings of a great 
Eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness into 
her place.* She pretends to heal diseases in a mi- 
raculous manner ; and when persons are not cured, 
she ascribes it to their want of faith. She has a 
Society formed in Genesee, who believe in her di- 
vine mission ; and whom she has taught to observe 
both the Jewish and Christian Sabbaths. Agreea- 
ble to her blasphemous pretensions, she has her 
linens marked with the letters I. H. S. (Jesus Horn- 
inum Salvator.)" 



NO. III. 

" Jemima Wilkinson, a Quaker, and a native of 
Rhode-Island, who manifested so fervent zeal in her 
religion, that at the age of twenty she was admit- 
ted to all the meetings of the Society, which were 
held weekly, monthly, and quarterly, for settling 
the general concerns and watching over the con- 
duct of the brethren. She at length fancied that 
she was called to act some good and extraordinary 
part, and in this persuasion, formed the project of 
becoming the leader of a sect. In the course of a 
long and dangerous illness, she was suddenly sei- 
zed with a lethargy, so that to her friends she ap- 
peared as really dead. She continued several 
hours in this situation ; and preparations were ac- 
tually making for her interment, when she sudden- 
ly started up, and called for her clothes, declaring 



*II. Corinthians, 3d and 15th, 



iv APPENDIX. 

" that she had risen from the dead, and that she had 
cast off all her material substance, and retained on- 
ly the spiritual." She went accordingly to the 
next meeting, and as if with the authority of some 
celestial being, spoke there as one inspired, and 
gained some followers. She soon made some pro- 
selytes, and at the same time drew upon herself the 
displeasure of all who adhered to the old forms of 
the religion of the Quakers. She experienced, 
therefore, a very unfavourable reception for herself 
and doctrines, both in Philadelphia and New-York. 
Wherever she came every Quaker turned away 
from her with abhorrence, as the enemy of his re- 
ligion ; and all other persons deemed her a fool or 
an enthusiast. This disposition of the public she 
again called a persecution, it being favourable to 
her ultimate views. The number of her followers 
was now daily increasing ; and as she confidently 
trusted it would become still more considerable, she 
thought they might perhaps be willing to follow 
her. Accordingly, she proposed to a number of 
them to flee from these regions of intolerance, and 
to settle in a place where they might worship God 
undisturbed, and free from that bitter spirit of per- 
secution which men had introduced in opposition 
to the. divine will. Soon after, the country about 
Lake Seneca and Crooked Lake, was fixed upon 
as the place of their settlement. The company of 
New-1'ork which had purchased this land from the 
Indians, entered into a treaty for the sale of it with 
these reformed Quakers. They were promised 
three tracts of land, containing each six thousand 
square acres, and which were to form three dis- 
tricts, and to which Jemima instantly gave the 
name of Jerusalem. Thirty families removed hith- 
er, with her \ but she had confidently expected three- 



APPENDIX. v 

or four hundred more, of whom, however, not a- 
bove (wenty at last arrived. This Society soon 
spread over the three districts, which it was to oc- 
cupy ; but it was not sufficiently numerous to re- 
plenish the fourth part of each. The enchantment 
however, had already been broken by Jemima's ab- 
sence, and with it had also vanished their zeal for 
peopling the new land of promise. 

" We saw Jemima (says the Duke de la Roche- 
foucault Laincourt) and attended her meeting, which 
is held in her own house. We found there about 
thirty persons, men, women and children. Jemi- 
ma stood at the door of her bed chamber, on a car- 
pet with an arm chair behind her. She had on a 
white morning gown, and waistcoat, such as men 
wear, and a petticoat of the same colour. Her 
black hair was cut short, carefully combed, and di- 
vided behind into three ringlets; she wore a stock 
and white silk cravat, which was tied about her 
neck with affected negligence. In point of deliv- 
ery, she preached with more ease than any other 
Quaker I have yet heard ; but the subject matter of 
her discourse was an eternal repetition of the same 
topics — death, sin, and repentance. She is said to 
be about forty years of age 9 but she did not appear 
to be more than thirty. She is of a middle stature, 
well made, of a florid countenance, and has fine 
teeth, and beautiibl eyes. Her action is studied ; 
she aims at simplicity, but there is somewhat pe- 
dantic in her manner. In her chamber we found 
her friend, Rachel Miller, a young woman about 
twenty eight or thirty years of age, iier follower 
and admirer, who is entirely devoted to her. All 
the land which Jemima possesses is purchased in the 
name of Rachel Miller, an advantage she owes to 
her influence over her adherents, and to her dest£- 



vi APPENDIX. 

rity in captivating their affections. Jemima, or the 
Friend (as she is called by way of eminence) incul- 
cates, as her leading tenet, poverty and resigna- 
tion of all earthly possessions. If yon talk to her 
of her house, she always calls it " the house which 
I inhabit." This house however, though built on- 
ly of the trunks of trees, is extremely pretty and 
commodious. Her room is exquisitely neat, and 
resembles more the boudoir of a fine lady, than the 
cell of a nun. It contains a looking glass, a clock, 
and an arm chair, a good bed, a warming pan, and 
a silver saucer. Her garden is kept in good order; 
her spring house is full of milk, cheese, butter, 
butcher's meat, raid game. Her hypocrisy may 
be traced in all her discourses, actions, and conduct, 
and even in the very manner in which she mana- 
ges her countenance. She seldom speaks without 
quoting the Bible, or introducing a serious sentence 
about death, and the necessity of making our peace 
with God. Whatever does not belong to her own 
sect, is with her an object of distaste and steadfast 
aversion. She sows dissentions in families, to de- 
prive the lawful heir of his right of inheritance, in 
order to appropriate it to herself; and all this she 
does under the name and agency of her companion, 
who receives all presents brought by the faithful, 
and preserves them for her reverend friend, who, 
being wholly absorbed in her communion with 
Christ, whose prophetess she Is, would absolutely 
forget the supply of her bodily wants, if she were 
not well taken care of. The number of her vota- 
ries has, of late, much decreased. Many of the 
families who followed her to Jerusalem, are no 
longer the dupes of her self interested policy. Some 
still keep up the outwaid appearance of attach- 
ment to her ; while others have openly disolaimed 



APPENDIX. vii 

their connexion with Jemima. Such, however, 
as still continue her adherents, appear to be entire- 
ly devoted to her. With these she passes for a 
prophetess, an indescribable being; she is not Je- 
mima Wilkinson, but a spirit of a peculiar name, 
which remains a profound secret to all, who are not 
true believers ; she is the friend, the all friend. — h 
Six or seven girls of different ages, but all young 
and handsome, wait upon her with surprising em- 
ulation, to enjoy the peculiar satisfaction of being 
permitted to approach this celestial being. Her 
fields and her garden are ploughed and dug by the 
Friends, who neglect their own business to take 
care of hers; and the All-Friend is so condescend- 
ing, as not to refuse their services; she comforts 
them with a kind word now and then, makes enqui- 
ries after, and provides for their health and welfare, 
and has the art of effectually captivating their af- 
fections, the more, perhaps, because she knows how 
to keep her votaries at a respectful distance. When 
the service was over, Jemima invited us to dinner. 
The hope of watching her more narrowly, induced 
us to accept the invitation ; but we did not then 
know, that it forms a part of the character she acts, 
never to eat with any one. She soon left us ; and 
locking herself up with her female friend, sat down 
without other company, to an excellent dinner; w r e 
did not get ours till after she had dined. When our 
dinner was over, and also another, which was serv- 
ed up after ours, the sanctuary was opened again* 
And now Jemima appeared once more at the door 
of her room, and conversed with us seated in an 
arm chair. When strangers are with her, she ne- 
ver comes over the threshold of her bed room ; and 
when by herself, she is constantly engaged in de- 
liberation how to improve the demesne of her friend. 



viii APPENDIX. 

The house was, this day, very full. Our company 
consisted of exactly ten persons ; after us dined an- 
other company of the same number; and as many 
more dined in the kitchen. Our plates, as well as 
the table linen, were perfectly clean and neat ; our 
repast, although frugal, was } r et better in quality 
than any of \Vhich we had partaken since we had 
left Philadelphia ; it consisted of good fresh meat, 
with pudding, an excellent sallad, and a beverage 
of peculiar, yet charming flavor, with which we? 
were plentifully supplied out of Jemima's apart- 
ment, where it was prepared. The devout guests 
observed, all this while, a profound silence ; they 
either cast down their eyes, or lifted them up to hea~ 
veti with a rapturous sigh ; to me they appeared 
not unlike a party of the faithful* in the primitive 
ages, dining in a church. The All-Friend, had by 
this time exchanged her former dress, for that of a 
fine Indian lady, which however, was cut out in the 
same fashion as the former. Her hair and eyebrows 
had again been combed. She did not utter a syl- 
lable respecting our dinner ; nor did she offer to 
make any apology for her absence. Constantly 
engaged in personating the part she had assumed, 
she descanted in a sanctimonious, mystic tone, on 
death, and ton the happiness of having been an use- 
ful instrument to others in the way of their salva- 
tion. She afterwards gave us a rhapsody of pro- 
phecies^o read, ascribed to one Dr. Love, who was 
beheaded in Cromwell's time; wherein she clearly 
discerned, according to her accounts, the French 
Revolution, the decline and downfall of popery, 
and the impending end of the world. Finding, 
however, that this conversation was but ill adapt- 
ed to engage our attention, she cut short her ha- 
rangue at once. 



APPENDIX. ix 

6< We had indeed, already seen'more than enough 
to estimate the character of this bad actress, whose 
pretended sanctity only inspired us with contempt 
and disgust, and who is altogether incapable of 
imposing upon any person of common understan- 
ding, unless those of the most simple minds, or 
downright enthusiasts. Her speeches are so strong- 
ly contradicted by the tenor of her actions ; her 
whole conduct ; her expense compared to that of 
other fa miles within a circumference of fifty miles; 
her way of living, and her dress, form such a stri- 
king contrast with her harangues on the subject of 
condemning earthly enjoyments ; and the extreme 
assiduity with which she is continually endeavor- 
ing to induce children, over whom she has any in- 
fluence, to leave their parents, and form a part of 
her community ; all those particulars so strongly 
militate against the doctrine of peace and univer- 
sal love, which she is incessantly preaching, that 
we were all actually struck with abhorrence at her 
duplicity and hypocrisy, as scon as the first emo- 
tions of our curiosity subsided. Her fraudulent 
conduct, indeed, has been discovered by so many 
persons, and so much has been said against it, tht 
it is difficult to account for her having had any a- 
herents at all, even for a short time. And yet she 
will probably retain a sufficient number, to increase 
still further a fortune, which is already considera- 
ble for the country in which she resides, and fully 
adequate to the only end which she now seems anx- 
ious to attain—namely, to live independent, in a 
decent, plentiful, and even elegant manner. r Ihere 
are so many weak minded religionists, and Jemima 
is so particularly careful to select her disciples a- 
inong persons who are either very old or very 

young, that her imposture, however gross and 



x APPENDIX, 

palpable to the discerning, may yet be carried ovi 
for some time with success, sufficient to answer her 
ultimate purpose. If her credit should sink too 
low, she would find herself constrained to trans- 
plant her holiness to some other region; and in fact, 
she had last year, harboured the design of removing 
her family and establishment, and of settling on 
Carlton Island, in the Lake of Ontario, where she 
would enjoy the satisfaction of living under the 
English government, which, by her account, has 
offered her a grant of land*" 



NO IV. 

" At a Coach maker's in Canandaigua, I saw & 
Coach finishing for Jemima, the Universal Friend* 
as she calls herself; which one of her avant-cou- 
riers or followers-after, was waiting to transport to 
Crooked Lake, the seat of her abominations. On 
each side pannel was a star, and on the rear of the 
carriage a cross of six or eight inches, surmounted 
by a star, with the letters U. F. on each side of the 
cross. I saw this woman many years since; she 
was then young and handsome, she is neither now. 
She pretended, and yet pretends, to be more than 
mortal. Jemima Wilkinson, she says, was dead 
and buried ; and to her followers she whispers, that 
she arose from the dead, the Saviour of the world ! 
It was a doubtful point, some few months past, 
whether she would not be indicted for blasphe- 
my ; but the Grand Jury not having sufficient 
proof, dismissed the bill. Finding that she made 
lew proselytes in the large cities, she retired into 
this part of the country, and with her own, and the 



APPENDIX. xi 

funds of her followers, purchased of the state about 
1800 acres of land, to which she gave the name of 
Jerusalem. She is ignorant, but artful ; speaks 
sententiously, interlards her discourse, aptly and 
inaptly, with scripture, and is seen only at stated 
periods by the world, as she terms all except her 
followers. 

" They tell a pleasant story of Jemima : — A little 
girl, who had reported that one of her followers 
had come into the window in the night, was called 
to account by the saint, who told her that it was an 
angel she had seen come ifi at the window ; the 
child answered, she believed it was an angel, but 

his coat has just such buttons on it as Mr. 

wore. 

i: Her tribe amounts to about seventy old men, 
old women, and young children, and except shedi- 
vides the property, the greatest share of which she 
has contrived to possess herself, will not increase." 



NO. V. 

"JEMIMA WILKINSON. 

11 This consummate and successful impostor, upon 
her visiting the city of Philadelphia, resided during 
her stay in that city, at the house of my father. — 
The novelty of such a character attracted general 
notice. Our family became incommoded by the 
numerous visitors that were desirous of communi- 
cating with her on the important subject of religion. 
Her popularity as a preaeheress, has never been 
surpassed. The Methodist Episcopal St. George's 
Church, was by the trustees, granted her, in which 
her oratory was displayed, to the wonder and aston- 



XII 



APPENDIX. 



ishment of thousands who attended her ministra* 
tions. She was masculine by articulation and ap- 
pearance. Her jet black hair, which she always 
kept moist, by frequent washing, which made it as- 
sume a glossy appearance, with black eyes and 
fair complexion, gave her an interesting appear- 
ance. She possesses a commanding and audible 
voice. 

" Upon any occasion when she walked out, the 
crowd that attended her person, became so great 
that it was inconvenient for her to be seen in pub- 
lic. After this discovery she would not be seen 
walking. When she paid a visit, or attended di- 
vine service, her followers had her conveyed in a 
carriage to her destined place. I remember per- 
fectly well, that the street and pavements opposite 
my father's house, were, without intermission, crow- 
ded daily. 

"Our next door neighbour, Mrs. S. W. became 
one of her proselytes, and when Jemima took her 
departure from our city, this infatuated lady forsook 
her husband and children, and accompanied her, 
with a number of others, to her new settlement. — 
This lady did not continue a long time absent from 

- family, before she returned in disgust against 
Uiis impostor, The report which circulated res- 
pecting the circumstance of this lady's re-appear- 
ance, was, as near as I can recollect, as follows : — 

" When her and her followers were seated in the 
chapel, ana after a long silence, Jemima arose from 
her seat, and with an audible voice proclaimed — 
" Sarah !~— Sarah ! !— Sarah ! ! ! — I have a mes- 
sage from God unto thee— this night thy soul will 
be required of thee. " She then sat down. Mrs. 
W. has been heard to say, that such a terror seized 
on her mind, and the rest of the auditors, as tongue 
uld not describe. This was on account of their 



APPENDIX. xiii 

having implicit faith in her as a prophetess. This 
happened in the winter, and a remarkable provi- 
dence was manifested in the preservation of Mrs. 
W.'s life. The house in which they resided, being 
much crowded, Mrs. W. had for her bed compan- 
ion, a white domestic, one of the sisterhood. When 
the appointed time arrived for the members of this de- 
voted family to retire, which was 9 o'clock, Mrs. W. 
with a palpitating heart, went to her chamber, and 
occupied the front part of the bed. The girl, in con- 
sequence of having had a large washing on that day, 
did not retire that night, until near 12 o'clock. — 
Mrs. W. could not close her eyes in sleep, and a- 
waited the time of her expected dissolution with an 
awful suspense — but judge her surprise, when about 
ten o'clock, her room doov opened. Hearing this, 
she concluded her bed fellow had finished her work> 
and was coming to take her rest, but to her aston- 
ishment, Jemima entered, dressed in white, with a 
veil over her head, holding a lighted candle in each 
hand, and passed close to her bed side, with a ve- 
ry slow pace, looked at Mrs. W. without uttering 
a word, after which she retired. 

"Mrs. W's. mind was racked with ten thousand" 
contending fears, and she could not close her eyes. 
She continued in this state until the hour of 11 
o'clock arrived. Jemima re-appeared, after the 
same manner as before represented, pursued the 
same course as before, and retired without uttering 
a word. Mrs. W. could not fathom her mysteri- 
ous conduct. At the approach of midnight, her 
apprehensions became insupportable. It so hap- 
pened, by the orders of an over ruling hand, that 
before the hour of 12 o'clock, the girl did retire, 
and in order to accommodate her, Mrs. W. remo- 
ved to the back part of the bed, and the girl took 
■ x2 



xiv APPENDIX. 

her warm place ; and on account of her being much 
fatigued, she soon fell asleep. About the dead hour 
of midnight, the door again opened. All was 
darkness ; and Mrs. W. could not perceive the ob- 
ject that entered, but she heard it approaching to- 
wards the bed, on a sudden the girl began to strug- 
gle for existence. Mrs. W. not knowing the cause, 
gave the alarm, and a person fled with precipita- 
tion from the room. Mrs. W. interrogated the 
girl respecting the cause. Her answer was, that 
some person had her by the throat, and was trying 
to strangle her. Here was at once a developement 
of the character of this fiend, this monster of de- 
pravity. 

" From this circumstance it appears self-evident, 
that Jemima's first visits with the candies, were to 
reconnoitre and ascertain the exact position of her 
intended victim ; that her prediction should be ver- 
ified ; and, by that means, a confirmation of her 
possessing supernatural powers, would be establish- 
ed in the minds of her credulous followers. But 
happily, her design was frustrated by Mrs. W. lea- 
ving her first position ; and her murderous inten- 
tion was defeated. Had Mrs. W. maintained the 
place she first occupied, her success would have 
been complete. On account of the fatigue of the 
girl, her sleep would have been so heavy, that she 
would be insensible to the struggles of Mrs. W.— 
Consequently, the morning light would have pro- 
claimed to her devotees, her knowledge of future 
events, and of her having a direct communication 
with Almighty God. Such was the credulity of 
her followers, that they viewed her as a second 
Christ. 

" After the public notoriety of the diabolical 
means she had resorted to for the further purpose 
of imposition, many anecdotes got in circulation 



APPENDIX. xv 

respecting her, which became the topic of general 
conversation, and shall be the subject of another 
communication, as I conceive every particular that 
relates to this extraordinary and wonderful woman, 
must be interesting to the community." 

"To cap the climax of desperation, this wanton 
of folly, had information extensively circulated, 
that she would, on a particular day, manifest her 
power and divinity, by walking on a certain river. 
Curiosity was upon tiptoe, to witness such a phe- 
nomenon in nature. It is to be presumed, that thou- 
sands, from every quarter, repaired to the appoint- 
ed place. 

"Jemima appeared, attended by the brothers 
and sisterhood of the fraternity, and commenced 
the exercises by addressing the multitude present, 
upon the important subject of faith, and endeavor- 
ed by argumentation, to persuade her hearers, that 
if she did not perform her promise, it would be ow- 
ing to their unbelief; and in order to exemplify and 
enforce conviction on their minds, she cited the case 
of Peter, and averred, that he walked on the water, 
until he and his brethren's faith had departed from 
them ; then Peter began to sink, and in his extrem- 
ity, ' Jesus stretched forth his hand, and said unto 
him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou 
doubt.' 

" After the conclusion of this harangue, Jemima 
approached the margin of the river, and lo ! as she 
trod the water, it would not obey the sovereign 
command, to uphold her unhallowed and ponder- 
ous weight ! After this experiment, she indig- 
nantly retreated upon the multitude, and reproved 
them as the cause, and as a verification of her pre- 
diction, declared in the language of our Lord— 
6 This is an evil generation ; they seek a sign, and 



xvi APPENDIX. 

there shall be no sign given it, for as Jonas was a 
sign unto the Ninevites, so shall Jemima be to this 
generation. The Queen of the South shall rise up 
in judgment with the men of this generation, and 
condemn them ; for she came from the uttermost 
parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon ; 
and behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The 
men of Ninevah shall rise up in judgment with this 
generation, and shall condemn it ; for they repent- 
ed at the preaching of Jonas, and behold, a greater 
than Jonas is here.' 

Ci How the disappointed expectants suffered her 
to retire from this scene of action, I did not learn. 
Notwithstanding her repeated discomfitures, by en- 
deavouring to perform an act calculated to con- 
vince the most credulous of her admirers of her 
Messiahship, still, like the staunch murderer, stea- 
dy to her purpose, she was determined to make an- 
other effort of imposition. She and her immediate 
followers formed a conspiracy for deception, and 
pre-concerted a plan that promised success; for she 
had no doubt of the ultimatum, as the means to ac- 
complish her project, was within her own borders 
and under her controul. 

" This Anti-Christ and her apostles, agreed to 
circulate a report, that one of Jemima's apostles 
was severely indisposed. After this, his death was 
announced ; the day appointed for his funeral ob- 
sequies : and that Jemima, having lost her favour- 
ite and beloved apostle, would only suffer him to 
sleep four days in death, and after that, raise him 
again. This account spread far distant, and the 
concourse which assembled to witness this solemn 
transaction, was represented to be immense. Je- 
mima and her family walked in procession to the 
grave. When they had arrived at the place of in- 
terment, Jemima commenced their ritual ccreir.o- 



APPENDIX. xvii 

nies, by a short introductory discourse upon death 
and the resurrection ; and, she assured them, as it 
was in the days of her prototype, so it had continu- 
ed from generation to generation. Calumny and 
detraction put occular demonstration and truth to 
defiance; and that a prophet was not without hon- 
our, save in his own country ; and concluded by 
promising to perform such a miracle in the pres- 
ence of her God and his people, as would convince 
them of her divine mission. She spoke largely of 
the affection she entertained towards the deceased ; 
denominating him a beloved apostle, but assuring 
them that he should rise again from death, in their 
presence. After concluding her sermon, she reci- 
ted, by rote (she was considered a perfect scripto- 
rian) from the first verse of the XI Chapter of St. 
John's Gospel, until she came to the 41st verse.— 
Every spectator was big with expectation, to wit- 
ness the issue, and Jemima no less sanguine as to the 
result, and the establishment of a belief that she 
was more than mortal. 

"But, unfortunately for this Jezebel, and artful 
woman, an officer happened to be present, witnes- 
sing this farce, and it appeared by his own declara- 
tion afterwards, that he was convinced from the 
whole tenor of the exhibition, an imposition was 
intended, and would be practised, unless a propo- 
sition was made, which if acted upon, would effec- 
tually prevent the supposed dead man from rising. 
Accordingly, this wight, having more courage and 
daring than an}' one present, just as Jemima had 
ended repeating the 40th verse, and was about of- 
fering up, with sacreligious lips, the prayer that our 
blessed Lord offered previous to his command- 
ing Lazarus to come forth, commanded her to stop 
until he had run his sword through the coffin ; and 
after that he would guarantee her beloved apostle 



xviii APPENDIX. 

would never rise again. The man in the coffin, 
having heard the conversation and determination 
of the officer, forced off the cover of the coffin and 
walked out, to the no small terror of some, and as- 
tonishment of all present ! 

"The chagrin of this undaunted champion of a 
diabolical system, bears no parallel. Independent 
of that fatal developement of her Anti-Christian 
spirit, her hardihood and effrontery upon this, as 
well as all other occasions, has never been surpas- 
sed. How she escaped the vengeance of an indig- 
nant and insulted public, I cannot fathom ; but the 
presumption must be, that her being a female, and 
viewed as a fanatic, was her passport to protec- 



NO. VI. 

"THE last Will and Testament of the person called 
the Universal Friend, of Jerusalem, in the county 
of Ontario, and State of New-York — who in the 
year one thousand seven hundred and seventy six, 
was called Jemima Wilkinson, and ever since that 
time the Universal Friend, a new name which the 
mouth of the Lord hath named. 

" Considering the uncertainty of this mortal 
life, and being of sound mind and memorj', blessed 
be the Lord of Sabbaoth and Father of Mercies 
therefor — I do make and publish this my last Will 
and Testament — 

" I, My Will is, that all my just debts be paid 
by my Executors, hereafter named. 

" II. I give, bequeath and devise unto Pva- 



APPENDIX. xix 

cliel Malin and Margaret Malm, now of said Jerin 
salem, all my earthly property, both real and per- 
sonal : that is to say, all m^ Land lying in said 
Jerusalem and in Benton, or elsewhere in the county 
of Ontario, together with ail the buildings thereon* 
to them, the said Rachel and Margaret, and their 
heirs and assigns forever, to be equally and amica- 
bly shared between them the said Rachel and Mar- 
garet. — And I do also give and bequeath to the 
said Rachel and Margaret Malin * all my wearing 
appare^, all my household furniture, and all my hor- 
ses, cattle, sheep, and swine, of every kind and des- 
cription, and also all my Carriages, Wagons, and 
Carts, of every kind, together with all my farming 
tools and utensils, and all my moveable property, 
of every nature and description whatever. 

" III. My Will is, that all the present members 
of my family, and each of them, be employed, if 
they please, and if employed, supported during nat- 
ural life, by the sdid Rachel and Margaret, and 
when any of them become unable to help themselves, 
they are according to such inability, kindly to be 
taken care of by the said Rachel and Margaret. — 
And my Will also is, that ail poor persons belong- 
ing to the Society of Universal Friends, shall re- 
ceive from the said Rachel and Margaret such as- 
sistance, comfort and support during natural life as 
they need — and in case any, either of my family, or 
elsewhere in the Society, shall turn away, such shall 
forfeit the provisions herein made for them. 

" IV. I hereby ordain and appoint the above 
named Rachel Malin and Margaret Malin Execu- 
tors of this my last Will and Testament — in witness 
whereof, I, the person once called Jemima Wilkin- 
son, but in and ever since the year 1777, known as 
and called the Public Universal Friend, hereunto 



xx APPENDIX. 

set my Name and Seal*, the twenty-fifth day of the 
second month, in the year of the Lord eighteen 
hundred ,and eighteen. 
THE PUBLIC UNIVERSAL FRIEND, [l.s.] 

IN PRESENCE OF 

&e. &c. 

" BE it remembered, That in order to remove 
all doubts of the due execution of the foregoing 
Will and Testament, being the person who before 
the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy 
en was known and called by the name of Jemi- 
ma Wilkinson, but since that time as the Universal 
Friend, do make, publish and declare the within in- 
strument as my last Will and Testament — as wit- 
ness my Hand and Seal, this seventeenth day of 
the seventh month, (JkIv) in the year one thousand 
eight hundred and eighteen. 

JEMlMA-j- WILKINSON, [l. s.] 

CROSS OR MARK, 

OR UNIVERSAL FRIEND," 

Witnesses, 
&Ci